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Arrested: 3 U.S. Citizens Accused of Being CIA Spies Nabbed in Congo After Failed Presidential Coup

drc coup partisangirl
Source: X/@Partisangirl

Three American citizens were reportedly arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a failed coup attempt.

May 20 2024, Published 2:30 p.m. ET

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Three American citizens were reportedly arrested by armed forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a failed coup attempt, has learned.

An exchange of gunfire broke out around 4 AM on Sunday in the nation's capital, Kinshasa, according to several reports. A DRC spokesperson said in a televised address that the country's armed forces intercepted an attack on the presidency involving Congolese and foreign fighters near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi.

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vital kamerhe
Source: MEGA

Attacks reportedly took place in Kinshasa, near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi, and at the home of Parliament member Vital Kamerhe.

In another attack nearby, two guards and an assailant were reportedly killed at the home of a parliament member poised to become speaker, Vital Kamerhe.

General Sylvain Ekenge told Reuters that roughly 50 people, including three American citizens, "were arrested and are currently undergoing interrogation by the specialized services of the Armed Forces."

The men from the United States were rumored in local media reports to be CIA operatives, and the DRC military identified the leader of the coup as a former refugee, Christian Malanga, 41.

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A video posted to X by a journalist with the Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen appeared to show two men, one with a bloodied face, begging for mercy from the DRC army.

"The army announces the arrest of American agent," the journalist wrote from her account, @partisangirl, along with a photo of a passport apparently belonging to one of the men, Benjamin Zalman-Polun, 36, from Maryland.

Malanga, a "naturalized American," had been "definitively neutralized" by security forces, the military said. Reuters also reported that Ekenge said Malanga had been killed.

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The outlet referenced a Facebook account seemingly belonging to Malanga, which reportedly posted a video livestream that appeared to show the attack taking place.

"We, the militants, are tired," the account holder wrote in the post. "We cannot drag on with Tshisekedi and Kamerhe, they have done too many stupid things in this country."

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president felix tshisekedi
Source: MEGA

Tshisekedi was re-elected president for a second term in December 2023.

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The U.S. Ambassador to the DRC, Lucy Tamlyn, said in a translated statement on X, "I am shocked by the events of this morning and very concerned by reports of American citizens allegedly involved."

"Please be assured that we will cooperate with the DRC authorities to the fullest extent as they investigate these criminal acts and hold accountable any U.S. citizen involved in criminal acts," Tamlyn added.

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A shell fired during the shootout in Kinshasa reportedly struck the neighboring Republic of Congo's city of Brazzaville, leading to several injuries and at least one hospitalization there.

The election for speaker was originally scheduled for Saturday, but a delay had been brought on by President Tshisekedi. He was re-elected president for a second term in December 2023.



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