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Americans involved in foiled deadly coup, DR Congo military says


By Nimi Princewill, CNN
Tuesday May 21, 2024


The Congolese Republican Guard and police block a road around the scene of an attempted coup in Gombe, Kinshasa on May 19, 2024. Arsene Mpiana/AFP/Getty Images

American citizens were involved in an attempted coup d’état that left at least three people dead on Sunday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a military spokesperson told CNN Monday.

The attempted coup, which targeted the residence of Congolese politician Vital Kamerhe and the country’s presidential palace, was led by opposition leader Christian Malanga, who was killed in a gun battle between the armed putschists and the presidential guards, according to army spokesman General Sylvain Ekenge. Ekenge also claimed Malanga was a US citizen, though the State Department said later it had no records of him.

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“I confirm the death of Christian Malanga neutralized during the exchange of fire at the Palais de la Nation (presidential palace),” Ekenge told CNN, adding that Malanga’s son Marcel, “was among those arrested.”

Ekenge named three other Americans, identified as Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun, Patrick Ducey, and Taylor Thomson were involved in the foiled coup.

“Patrick Ducey and Taylor Thomson are the same person who have two different identities. We’re going to check his passport,” he added.

US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said the US is aware of two other individuals “reported to be” US citizens who are in custody after the failed coup attempt. Miller said privacy laws prevented him from confirming whether or not the US had reached out to the Congolese government to be granted consular access to the two individuals.

Videos widely shared on social media, but not verified by CNN, showed a man with a bloody face being surrounded by Congolese military personnel.

US ambassador to the DRC, Lucy Tamlyn, said in a post on social media platform X, that she was “shocked” by reports of the attempted coup, adding that her country “will cooperate with the DRC authorities to the fullest extent as they investigate these criminal acts and hold accountable any US citizen involved in criminal acts.”

It is not immediately known whether President Felix Tshisekedi, who secured re-election for a second term after last December’s disputed vote was at the presidential palace during the attack.

Sunday’s incident was the second coup attempt by the now deceased Malanga, a former Congolese military veteran, Ekenge told CNN.

“He tried it without success in 2017,” Ekenge said but did not provide further details.

Malanga, 41, who had been exiled in the US, headed the United Congolese Party which describes itself as an “opposition political party-in-exile.”

Flanked by his son and other armed men in military fatigue, Malanga was seen in a live-streamed video posted on his Facebook page railing against Tshisekedi’s government and Kamerhe on the morning of the attack, accusing them of doing “many stupid things in this country,” according to Reuters.

A DRC government statement commended the “prompt reaction” of the DRC’s security forces in foiling the attack, stating that two police officers stationed at politician Kamerhe’s home “were killed on the spot.”

The DRC, Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation, is one of the five poorest countries in the world, according to the World Bank, despite its vast mineral wealth.

Parts of the Central African nation are almost overrun by armed militia groups who mastermind deadly attacks against civilians in their battle for territory and control over the country’s natural resources.

Sub-Saharan Africa has grappled with a spate of coups, with the latest happening last August in Gabon, the DRC’s Central African neighbor.

The African Union condemned SuCNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.nday’s coup attempt in the DRC and welcomed the “control of the situation” by the country’s security forces.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.



 





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