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Gunmen raid Democratic Republic of the Congo’s prison, 900 escape, 11 die in exchange of fire

The Kangwayi Prison in Beni was attacked on Sunday by assailants. (File photo)
Eleven people were killed and more than 900 inmates escaped Sunday after unidentified assailants attacked a jail in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s restive east, an official said.
“The Kangwayi prison in Beni was attacked at 3:30 pm (1330 GMT) by assailants whose identity is not yet known,” Julien Paluku, the governor of North Kivu Province, told reporters.
“In the exchange of fire between security forces and the attackers, authorities have (counted) 11 dead including eight members of the security forces,” Paluku said, adding, “For the moment, out of 966 prisoners, there are only 30 left in the prison.”
Paluku said the Beni area and the neighboring town of Butembo had been put under curfew from 6:30 pm. “Only police officers and soldiers should be out from this time,” he said.
The attack came a day after the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked a police station and a prosecutor’s office in the capital, Kinshasa, killing a police officer and seriously injuring four others after a series of similar strikes over the past three weeks.
It also comes after two jailbreaks in the vast, unstable central African nation in the past month.
The violence has erupted as the Democratic Republic of the Congo is mired in a deep political crisis tied to President Joseph Kabila’s hold on power. Tension has been mounting across the vast mineral-rich nation of 71 million people since December last year, when Kabila’s second and final term officially ended.
Under a power-sharing agreement brokered by the influential Catholic Church on New Year’s Eve, Kabila is due to remain in office until elections at the end of 2017. However, Kabila earlier this month seemed to back away from the deal to hold a vote this year.
“I have not promised anything at all,” he told the German weekly Der Spiegel in a rare media interview. “I wish to organize elections as soon as possible.”

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