4 Chinese held in Congo
Brazzaville - Four Chinese nationals have been arrested in Congo Republic for illegally dealing in ivory, the first arrests of Chinese in the country in connection with the trade, police sources said on Monday.
The suspects face up to five years in prison and fines of $10 000. The arrests were made after a raid on their premises in central Brazzaville produced a haul of ivory bracelets, statues and other goods.
Ivory dealing has been banned since 1989 after decades of poaching in which Africa's elephant population was halved, with an estimated 600 000 animals remaining by the late 1990s.
But authorities say an influx of Chinese workers to the continent has led to a rise in poaching in countries such as Kenya. Chinese nationals can buy ivory at local prices and make a profit by selling it when they return home.
Congo's Chinese community numbers around 2 000, mostly involved in construction, timber, the restaurant trade and cut-price retail shops widely appreciated by most locals.