Cablegate: Kinshasa Sitrep 4: Military Claims to Be Gaining
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0355 0821552
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231552Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5854
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS KINSHASA 000355
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ASEC KPKO MOPS CG
SUBJECT: KINSHASA SITREP 4: MILITARY CLAIMS TO BE GAINING
CONTROL IN KINSHASA
REF: KINSHASA 353 AND PREVIOUS
1. (SBU) Sporadic shooting continued into the afternoon
around the Embassy compound in the Gombe district of
Kinshasa. Automatic weapons fire and several loud explosions
have been heard since midday. Military officials with FARDC
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Kisempia Sunglinga claim their troops
are gaining the "upper hand" in Kinshasa against the guard
forces of Jean-Pierre Bemba. They told us the current
shooting is part of "mop-up" operations against Bemba's
guards fleeing his former official residence on Boulevard de
30 Juin. While FARDC officials contend they are in control of
the city, Post has received multiple but unverified reports
nearby Ndolo airport was temporarily occupied by Bemba's
forces. The DRC's Air Force maintains a small base adjacent
to Ndolo. Post assesses that resistance by Bemba's forces is
rapidly decreasing, with a potential pocket of Bemba troops
possibly remaining in the Ndolo area.
2. (U) EAC convened at 11:30 a.m. at 4:00 p.m. The committee
unanimously decided to request authorized departure for
family members, which will be forwarded septel. An additional
warden message was sent midday out advising all AmCits to
remain in their present positions. The EAC will meet again at
3. (SBU) There are no reports of AmCit casualties from the
fighting. Three AmCits were successfully extracted from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs where they had spent the evening.
All were safely returned to the nearby Grand Hotel. Two other
AmCits were later extracted from the DRC's Migration
Authority when they had been since fighting erupted and taken
to the Memling Hotel. Several other AmCits remain in at least
two locations in the Gombe area and are unable to leave their
4. (SBU) A small group of about eight Congolese, including
women and children, climbed over the wall of the JAO complex
in the early afternoon. After an audible warning was given
over the loudspeaker system, the intruders left the compound.
The windows at the residences of two Mission employees were
damaged by gunfire on March 23.
5. (SBU) AmCit and local businessman Cameron Burns reported
to EconOff earlier today one of his boats in the Kinshasa
area was seized the morning of March 23 by armed men believed
to be from Bemba's guard force. Burns said the boat, which
was carrying nearly 150 tons of sugar, cement and other
provisions, was taken in the Maluku area upriver from
Kinshasa. Burns later reported the boat and the material was
returned to his crew.
6. (SBU) Businesses remain closed in Gombe although there are
a small number of pedestrians along 30 Juin. Witnesses report
roads were mostly empty but there was some public
transportation. Some foot and vehicle traffic has reportedly
resumed in the area of the Grand Hotel.
7. (SBU) MONUC officials report nearly 100 members of Bemba's
guard have surrendered to MONUC peacekeepers. A total of 64
AK-47 rifles and two RPGs have been recovered. The
surrendering forces are being temporarily detained at MONUC's
headquarters in Gombe. Other reports suggest that Bemba
troops are also shedding uniforms and melting into the
8. (U) MONUC's Radio Okapi, quoting hospital sources,
reported at least seven killed and 30 wounded, including
military and civilians. MONUC military officials said they
have reports of at least seven FARDC soldiers and seven of
Bemba's guards killed.
9. (SBU) The petroleum pipeline from Matadi in Bas-Congo
province to Kinshasa was shut off the morning of March 23.
Port officials told us operations in Matadi are proceeding
normally, and trucks from the port are leaving from Kinshasa.
It is not yet clear if the vehicles are entering Kinshasa.
10. (SBU) Bemba remains at the South African Ambassador's
residence in Gombe. As reported reftel, the GDRC reportedly
issued an arrest warrant for the former vice president,
charging him with treason and organizing a private militia.
President Kabila has not yet made any public statements about