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ROC: Fighting erupts in Brazzaville

Country Map - Congo IRIN
The number of IDPs in the interior of Pool region, which surrounds Brazzaville, remains unknown
Fighting erupted early on Friday in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo (ROC), when an assault was launched on Maya Maya airport, sources in the city told IRIN. After a four-hour lull gunfire was heard again around 7 a.m. (09:00 GMT) and lasted until 8:30 a.m. (10:30 GMT). "The town is extremely quiet," one resident told IRIN. "No one is on the road apart from government and military vehicles." She said about 5,000 people have started to flee but the military has blockaded "many parts of town". In Mfilou area, tanks are in the street, and cars are being stolen by the military in Ouenze." Details about the conflict were still sketchy by midday, but diplomats said were considering two theories: First, that Ninja militias sought to attack government military installations and equipment at Mayama. "Government tanks lined up and fired in the area, and light arms were fired as well," a diplomat in Brazzaville told IRIN. "The military often retaliates this way - with heavy and light arms - to scare and deter the Ninjas." Fighting erupted in ROC in late March when so-called Ninja militias attacked several government military positions in Pool region, north and west of Brazzaville, government said. However, Ninja representatives have said that the clashes were provoked when they discovered government plans to arrest their leader, the Rev Frederic Bitsangou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi. A second explanation put forth was that this was an attempted coup d'etat, or perhaps the result of internal problems between the Congolese and Angolan forces, whose troops are present to support President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Sassou-Nguesso was due back later on Friday after attending the World Food Summit in Rome.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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