Police in Democratic Republic of Congo killed two gunmen who tried to raid a mining depot in Lubumbashi during a visit to the city by the president, officials said.
President Joseph Kabila was in Lubumbashi, in the heart of the minerals-rich Katanga province, ahead of Independence Day celebrations due on Thursday.
“The attack lasted around half an hour, the attackers opened fire on the police and the police responded, killing two, capturing three and seizing weapons,” government spokesman Lambert Mende said. “The army were not involved.”
He said approximately 10 armed thieves tried to break into the Volcano Mining depot in the city early on Wednesday, adding “we do not see any link between this and the president’s visit”. In recent years Katanga has attracted interest from mining companies keen to exploit the area’s vast copper reserves, with the region producing nearly 500,000 tonnes in 2010, Reuters reports.
Katanga is seen as one of the most stable parts of Congo’s troubled eastern provinces, where several rebel groups operate since a 1998-2003 war that killed more than 5 million people.
In February Lubumbashi’s airport was briefly closed following an attack by unknown gunmen.
Congo is scheduled to hold presidential elections in November, though observers are concerned the government is falling behind on preparations and the opposition has called the schedule unconstitutional and unrealistic.