Kinshasa - Heavy gunfire erupted in several areas of the
Congolese capital Kinshasa on Monday, including the international airport and
the military headquarters, causing panic among residents.
Police also said armed youths had taken hostage several
reporters from the state television station RTNC in Kinshasa.
"There's panic in the city, people are asking what is
happening," a local resident told AFP, adding that he had seen police and
military officers deploy around the RTNC building and the nearby parliament of
the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Shooting was heard near the Tshatshi military camp as well
as the international airport at Ndjili, residents and a local journalist said.
Police officers, soldiers and the president's Republican
Guard fanned out across the capital to restore security, an AFP reporter saw.
Traffic was slowed down and security forces were restricting the movements of
civilians in some areas.
A smell of gunpowder hung in the air, the reporter said.
Journalists taken hostage
A police spokesperson said earlier that journalists at RTNC
had been taken hostage by armed youths, and the television feed had been cut.
"They are armed with machetes and guns. They have taken
reporters hostage. An operation is under way to dislodge them," spokesperson
Colonel Mwana Mputu told AFP.
Before the station's television feed was cut, two young
presenters were seen on screen, appearing frightened but calm, with a young man
standing behind them seemingly threatening them.
The DRC is a vast country rich in a wide range of minerals,
where eastern provinces have been in turmoil since even before President Joseph
Kabila took office in wartime in January 2001, following the assassination of
his father, Laurent-Desire.