Gunmen attacked the airport in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s largest city, Goma, in an overnight raid that killed at least one government soldier, a local governor and a military official said on Tuesday. Witnesses in the city, home to around 1 million people and capital of Congo’s volatile North Kivu province, said they heard intermittent heavy gunfire for several hours beginning around 1 a.m. (2300 GMT, Monday). North Kivu governor Julien Paluku did not identify the attackers, referring to them only as “bandits”.
“They attacked the depot at the airport. There was a heavy exchange of gunfire,” he told Reuters. Paluku said soldiers from the Congolese army’s elite Republican Guard repelled the attack and pursued the assailants from the airport, which lies on the edge of the city, into the city centre where the shooting continued. He said one Republican Guard soldier and one of the assailants were killed, while three attackers were captured.
A Congolese security official involved in the clashes said the attack was launched by Mai-Mai fighters, members of one of the dozens of armed militias that control large parts of Congo’s mineral-rich eastern borderlands. He said that four soldiers had died and another six were seriously wounded in the fighting, while government forces had killed three of the raiders and captured 10 of them. A diplomatic source in Goma said three Republican Guard soldiers were killed.