January 22, 1999
BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (CNN) -- Artillery and machine gun fire rocked the Congo's capital of Brazzaville on Friday, with some of the shells falling across the river in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital, Kinshasa, witnesses said.
Brazzaville residents said the shelling appeared to be coming from the center of the city, aimed at the southern stronghold of an opposition militia. In Kinshasa, the British embassy was hit by stray fire: No one was hurt, and there was no significant damage, embassy sources said.
Brazzaville residents said the road from the city to Maya Maya International Airport had been closed. The road passes through the city's southern district, the fiefdom of former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas and his Ninja militia.
"The shelling started last night and intensified today. It was almost uninterrupted this morning," said a resident of Kinshasa, which is separated from Brazzaville by the Congo River.
France may evacuate its citizens from Republic of Congo after the death of an embassy guard. The soldier was killed Thursday afternoon during an exchange of gunfire in Brazzaville's pro-Kolelas Bacongo neighborhood, France's Foreign Ministry said on Friday from Paris.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret told reporters the situation in Brazzaville was confused.
"We are studying appropriate steps to allow those who want to leave to do so, according to how the situation evolves," she said.
About 300 French citizens are in the Republic of Congo, she said.
Brazzaville has been dogged by recurring warfare since former military ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso and his Cobra militia, backed by Angolan troops, ousted the elected government in 1997. A backlash from loyalists of ousted President Pascal Lissouba engulfed the city in fighting again in December.
Across the river in Kinshasa, meanwhile, officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo offered a truce in their own civil war -- but only if troops from other countries backing the rebels in the country's eastern reaches leave immediately.
"The Congolese people and government have no problem with signing a cease-fire, but it must be followed immediately by the withdrawal of uninvited troops from our territory," Congolese Foreign Minister Jean-Charles Okoto said after a visit to military ally Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola support Congolese President Laurent Kabila's government against the rebels, who are supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The rebels said this week they would accept a cease-fire if the government would enter talks leading to democratic reforms.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.