News24

Gunmen attack Congo airport

2012-08-08 17:56

Kinshasa - Unidentified gunmen attacked the airport in the Congolese mining town of Lubumbashi early on Wednesday, killing at least one soldier, but government forces repelled the offensive after several hours of fighting, police said.

Lubumbashi, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo's south-eastern copper and cobalt mining province, Katanga, is hundreds of kilometres from the heavier fighting ongoing between rebels and the army in North Kivu province, but the clash follows two similar attacks on the town last year.

"According to our information there is one soldier dead, and another injured," General Charles Bisengimana, Congo's chief of police said.

The airport remained open, he added.

Bisengimana said government forces were pursuing the gunmen. He did not say how many attackers there were, or if any were killed or captured.

A similar attack on Lubumbashi airport last year was blamed on armed men linked to secessionists. A local militia leader and hundreds of inmates also escaped in a separate attack on Lubumbashi's prison in September.

Katanga hosts many international mining companies, including miner Freeport McMoRan and commodities trader Glencore , and exports around half a million tons of copper each year.