A Mai Mai militia attacked Banro Corp’s east Congo Namoya gold mine with rifle and artillery fire, a Banro geologist said, killing five people and wounding several others in the second attack on the mine in less than a year.
“The rebels tried to take expatriate workers on site hostage but they didn’t succeed because they couldn’t reach the place where they were taking refuge,” geologist Bienfait Mukelo told Reuters.
They were repelled in a firefight with the guards, he said.
He later said five people were killed, including two from Congolese security forces and many wounded, mostly by an exploding artillery shell fired into the compound. The wounded were taken to hospital, he said.
Well-armed militia groups have repeatedly struck Banro operations in eastern Congo, which is home to dozens of such groups.
Fighting between the Congolese army and a local militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo forced Banro to suspend operations at Namoya gold mine for a month and temporarily evacuate its staff in mid-2017.
Militias like Mai Mai who believe blessed water has magical properties to protect fighters from bullets, have preyed on the population and exploited mineral resources since 2003, at the end of a regional war.
Insecurity worsened across Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired at the end of 2016.
Militiamen kidnapped five Namoya workers in March and later released them. Three police officers were killed in a raid on Banro’s Twangiza gold mine in a neighbouring province in February.