Nearly a dozen men armed with knives and batons burst into the largest market in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa killing at least two people and wounding six police officers, police and witnesses said.
The assailants were not identified, but witnesses said they wore red headbands and magic charms.
Members of Bundu dia Kongo, a separatist cult blamed for an attack on Kinshasa’s main prison in May in which about 4,000 inmates escaped, often wear red bands and carry similar items.
The incident in the heart of Kinshasa’s business district further heightened security fears, after a series of mass prison breaks and worsening militia violence across the country.
Insecurity in the central African country, where millions died in civil wars around the turn of the century, has intensified since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired in December.
Police spokesman Pierrot Mwanamputu said in a statement unidentified assailants killed the administrator of Kinshasa’s Central Market and a police officer from a nearby station. Six other officers were seriously wounded, he said.
Hydro Eloko, an official at the market, told Reuters the attackers stabbed the administrator and several police officers. Other witnesses confirmed his account.
A Reuters reporter saw a pool of blood and shattered glass in the administrator’s office and drips of blood on the ground outside shortly after the attack.
People ran for blocks to flee the scene and shops on nearby streets were shuttered as dozens of soldiers and police officers were deployed in pickup trucks.