March 3, 2017 / 6:47 PM / 5 months ago

Congo police arrest separatist cult leader after violent standoff

2 Min Read

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Democratic Republic of Congo said on Friday they had arrested the leader of a separatist Christian cult in the capital Kinshasa following a two-week standoff in which least six of his supporters were killed.

Ne Muanda Nsemi, a member of parliament and leader of Bundu dia Kongo (BDK), was arrested at his residence along with his wife, police spokesman Pierre Mwanamputu said in a statement.

Nsemi, a self-styled prophet, has a strong following in the southwestern province of Kongo Central, which his supporters want to constitute part of a revived Kongo kingdom, which flourished for centuries around the mouth of the Congo river.

The violence has compounded wider tensions across Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down after his mandate expired in December, raising fears of renewed civil war.

Mwanamputu declined to provide a death toll for the operation but witnesses told Reuters that police shot dead at least two BDK members on Friday when they ran at officers.

At least four others were killed last month when the police first raided Nsemi's house in response to a series of deadly clashes between BDK supporters and police in Kongo Central.

Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Alison Williams

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