Tag Archives: Congo

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks


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Disabled DR Congo street musicians push for copyright recognition


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Mount Nyiragongo: Why DR Congo fears the explosive power of a lake


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DR Congo Muslim cleric Sheikh Ali Amini killed in mosque


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Italy presses UN for answers on envoy’s slaying in Congo


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Italian ambassador killed in Congo kidnap attempt


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Ashley Judd’s Photos Of Her Harrowing Rescue In Congo Highlight The Heroes


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Mystery as plane carrying Russian arms smugglers crashes in Congo

Mystery as plane carrying Russian arms smugglers crashes in CongoThe Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the world’s worst aviation safety records, so reports that an aircraft had tumbled into a remote forest last week caused few international ripples. Since then, however, a deepening mystery over the nature of the cargo and the identity of those on board has left the Congolese government facing awkward questions. The fate of the stricken plane, a mysterious Antonov-72 so far only identified by its former registration number, EK-72903, may also provide a glimpse into the murkier side of Russia’s attempts to reassert its influence in Africa. The details remain scant. Last Thursday, the plane crashed 59 minutes after taking off from the eastern city of Goma bound for the capital Kinshasa. None of the eight people on board survived, officials said. The passengers were identified as the personal chauffeur of Felix Tshisekedi, Congo’s president, and three of his bodyguards. An armoured vehicle used by the president was also on board. A more troubling disclosure followed when two of the four-strong crew were identified. Vitaly Shumkov and Vladimir Sadovnichy, the plane’s pilots, were not only Russian nationals, they both appeared to have a background in gun running. The plane, too, has a murky past. EK-72903 was once owned by an Armenian company whose proprietor has been linked to arms smuggling elsewhere in Africa. Whether the crew were somehow furthering Kremlin interests remains unknown. However, there is no secret that Russia hopes to regain the influence the Soviet Union once wielded in Africa by wooing its leaders with arms sales, private security and “political technologists” adept at winning elections. Such attempts have often been linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin who has been accused of masterminding attempts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. Mr Prigozhin allegedly had Congo in his sights after Russia announced in May that it was sending a team of army specialists to the country. Some Russia media outlets speculated that Mr Prigozhin, was on board the plane ahead of a meeting with President Tshisekedi. That is almost certainly untrue. Slumming it on an Antonov is generally not Mr Progozhin’s style. “He wouldn’t get into a plane like that,” a Congolese government official said.  “This gentleman is an oligarch and if he travels then he travels on his own plane.” The official said that while Mr Prigozhin had not been scheduled to meet President Tshisekedi, other Russian government representatives had requested a meeting to discuss the upcoming summit. It is unclear if any were on board. At least two people described as being “of eastern European origin” were also on the plane. They have not yet been identified, adding to the intrigue surrounding the flight. For the moment, whoever else was on board the plane remains unknown. With some sources saying there may have been 11 people rather than eight on board, UN officials were attempting to identify the remains of the dead — some of whom had been hastily buried — last night. Even that might not put an end to the intrigue of what happened aboard EK-72903. Congo rarely gives up its mysteries. In 1961, a plane departing the country with then UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld on board crashed.  Three inquiries failed to determined the cause of the crash and Hammarskjöld’s death remains a mystery to this day.



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Seven dead in DR Congo lake boat capsize

Seven dead in DR Congo lake boat capsizeSeven people drowned after a transport boat sank after hitting rocks on a lake in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the weekend, local authorities said on Monday. Lake and river transport is widely used in the DRC as the highway system is poor, but accidents are common, often caused by overloading and the unsafe state of vessels. The “total number of deaths is seven,” the local minister of transport and communication in South Kivu province, Claude Swedy Basila said in a statement.



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Ebola treatment center in Congo reopens after attack

Ebola treatment center in Congo reopens after attackAn Ebola treatment center located at the epicenter of the current outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has resumed operations after it was attacked last month, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday. The center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the district of Katwa was set on fire on Feb. 24 by unknown attackers, forcing staff to evacuate patients. “For now it is managed by the ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF,” it said, referring to the United Nations children’s fund.



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