Congolese army moves to restore authority in Pool region

Brazzaville, Congo (PANA) - A military base of the Congolese army has been opened at Kinkala, Pool district capital, in order to restore authority in that part of the country, where armed groups have perpetrated acts of lawlessness.
The Congolese Armed Forces (FAC) chief of staff, Gen. Charles Richard Mondjo, inaugurated the base Sunday, saying it symbolised "the imminent resumption of the administration in the whole region."

"We will restore State authority in the whole region and secure the people of Pool, who have insistently called for a military zone to put an end to exaction by armed groups," Gen. Mondjo said.

Members of the FAC and the national gendarmerie will carry out operations from the base under the command of Col. Michel Nsamoungana.

Pool district has since last March experienced insecurity caused by Ninja rebel militiamen, led by Father Frederic Bitsangou alias Jean Ntumi. The rebels have been harassing military patrols and attacking, raping and killing villagers and burning their houses, causing the population to flee.

Widespread insecurity in the region has prevented UN agencies from providing relief to the large numbers of people who have fled to forests to escape the violence of armed groups.

"The situation will be normalised as quickly as possible. We cannot let a small group of evil-minded people take our nation hostage. We need cooperation of the public in order to succeed," Mondjo said.

Last November, Congolese President Denis Sassou Ngueso ordered the army to open humanitarian corridors and called on the Ninja militiamen to use such corridors and surrender their arms in exchange for amnesty. About 400 militiamen have heeded the call and surrendered to Congolese authorities.

Ntumi, however, has called for dialogue among all Congolese as a condition for his surrender. The Brazzaville government rejected the demand.


Pan African News Agency
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