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Katanga rebel leader dead, local political leaders arrested

The leader of an armed group, which for three days earlier in October seized control of the town of Kilwa in the southeastern province of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is dead. "Alain Ilunga Mukalyi died on 17 October of his wounds," Chikez Diemu, the deputy governor of Katanga, said for the first time on Thursday. Mukalyi headed a group of 30 combatants who, on 15 October, took the mining town on the western shore of Lake Mweru. He was wounded during a government counter offensive on 16 October in which the army retook the town. Mukalyi fled, having been shot several times, but he was captured by local civilians, who took him to military authorities in the town. He was admitted to a local hospital and underwent surgery. He died hours later. Twenty-seven other combatants were also killed in the counter offensive. The army captured two others alive. Security officials are now trying to ascertain who the attackers were and who supported them. Numerous political leaders in the province have been arrested. Human rights groups and newspapers in the capital, Kinshasa, denounced the arrests. In Lubumbashi, the provincial capital, "a dozen people have been arrested arbitrarily", said Jean-Claude Katende, head of the Lubumbashi NGO, Association africaine de défense des droits de l'homme. Diemu defended the action, saying that the attackers had spoken of being supported by local politicians. "It is normal that we accord these people a chance to give their version of the facts," he said. Mukalyi had identified himself as the head of a local Mayi-Mayi militia seeking integration into the national army, in accordance with a power-sharing agreement signed by the government and rebel groups in April 2003. It was designed to end all armed conflicts in the DRC. Katanga authorities denied the claim. "At best they might have been Mayi-Mayi defectors," Diemu said.

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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