* Gunmen attack military camp, airport, state TV
* Information minister says situation under control
* Religious leader says his supporters responsible
* Kabila aide: Not a serious attempt to seize power
(Adds comment from pastor)
By Bienvenu Bakumanya
KINSHASA, Dec 30 Congolese troops killed dozens
of armed youths who attacked the airport, a military barracks
and state television headquarters in the capital Kinshasa on
Monday in incidents claimed by a disgruntled religious leader.
Before transmission was shut down at state television, the
attackers shouted slogans in favour of pastor Paul Joseph
Mukungubila and against President Joseph Kabila.
The pastor, who calls himself a prophet and once ran for
president in 2006, later told the BBC that the attacks were in
response to government harassment of his supporters. "It's the
fifth time the brothers were attacked; they decided to show what
they are capable of," he said late on Monday.
Several corpses lay on the rain-soaked ground outside the
brightly painted gates of the state television centre after the
attack, a Reuters witness said. The broadcaster reported that
security forces had killed 46 of the attackers, while government
officials said about 20 more had been arrested.
Shortly after the clashes, soldiers in the eastern mining
province of Katanga attacked a church run by Mukungubila, who
has railed against Kabila's decision to make peace with Tutsi
rebels in eastern Congo, saying the president was under the
influence of Rwanda.
Witnesses said the fighting in the regional capital
Lubumbashi quickly subsided. Security forces found arms and
ammunition in the church, sources told Reuters.
"We have total control of the situation," said government
spokesman Lambert Mende, saying there were no civilian or troop
Government officials said the Kinshasa assault was carried
out by untrained youths in civilian clothes with aged military
equipment and appeared to be more a political statement than an
attempt to seize power in the riverside city of more than 9
Some analysts in Kinshasa said the attacks could be linked
to Kabila's recent decision to replace national police chief
John Numbi, a powerful political figure from Katanga, with
Charles Bisengimana, an ethnic Tutsi.
Democratic Republic of Congo is struggling to emerge from
decades of violence and instability, particularly in its east,
in which millions of people have died, mostly from hunger and
disease. A 21,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission
(MONUSCO) is stationed in the country.
Gunmen briefly seized the headquarters of state radio and
television in Kinshasa just before 0700 GMT (0800 a.m. local),
taking several journalists hostage. Witnesses also reported
shooting at the Tshatshi military camp, close to the Defence
Ministry, and at the international airport.
A local MONUSCO staff member was wounded during shooting at
the airport but was in a stable condition, a U.N. spokesman
said. Some flights were diverted to Brazzaville, the capital of
Congo Republic, on the other side of the Congo river.
"Gedeon Mukungubila has come to free you from the slavery of
the Rwandan," shouted one youth in the Lingala language on
television, while two panicked presenters stared at the camera.
A voice off-camera could be heard to say in Lingala:
"Kabila, it's finished for him from today."
Kabila has ruled the vast, mineral-rich African nation since
2001 following the assassination of his father, Laurent.
Opponents of Kabila, who was educated in Tanzania and
Uganda, accuse him of being a Rwandan in an attempt to tarnish
his reputation. Mukungubila, nicknamed Gedeon by his followers,
made a failed bid for the presidency against Kabila in 2006.
In the Maniema province of eastern Congo, Mai Mai rebels
briefly seized the airport in the town of Kindu before they were
disloged by U.N. and government forces. It was not clear if this
was related to events in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.
In the capital, streets emptied and shopkeepers closed their
shutters as the attack sowed panic among the population. The
areas around the barracks and television HQ were cordoned off
and riot police patrolled the streets in Jeeps.
"With their adventures, Kabila and the others are ignoring
our suffering. We have had enough," said Betty, a banana
saleswoman on Boulevard 30 Juin in central Kinshasa.
Political tension has risen amid speculation that Kabila may
try to change the constitution and run for a third term in 2016
against a fragmented opposition. The defeat of M23, Congo's most
important rebel group, strengthened his grip on power.
(Additional reporting by Kenny Katombe a Goma; Writing by
Daniel Flynn and Emma Farge; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)