The new official figure of over 126 arrests is a steep rise on the some 30 suspects initially held for the incident in Kinshasa which Kabila’s government described as an attempted coup before rejecting that theory.
The death toll also climbed from seven to 19 as authorities for the first time confirmed that eight government troops had been killed in fighting which broke out as Kabila’s Republican Guard repelled the attack on his house.
“Kinshasa was the victim of an armed attack carried out by disruptive elements from outside (the country) with some support from accomplices to be found here in Kinshasa,’ police spokesman Lole Onyondo said in a statement.
A military base, the international airport and a radio station had also been targets in the assault, and the attackers had planned to kill president Kabila, the statement said.
Many of those arrested loudly protested their innocence as the statement was read out at police headquarters in Kinshasa. No questions from journalists were allowed.
“I know nothing, I know nothing. I’m not a soldier,” one man said. Another, with a large open wound in his leg, was in tears. At least two women were amongst those arrested.
Congo remains unstable nearly ten years after the end of a war that left more than five million people dead.
Kabila came to power after his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001 and later won the country’s first democratic elections in 2006.
Despite overseeing economic growth and encouraging foreign investment in the Congo’s vast and largely untapped mineral sector, he faces growing unpopularity with much of the population still living on around $2 a day.
His critics accuse him of becoming increasingly autocratic and failing to bring security to the central African country. In January Kabila signed off on constitutional changes seen as helping to boost his chances of re-election later this year. Reuters