wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04KINSHASA2118
2004-11-18 15:35:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kinshasa
Cable title:  

POSSIBLE MASSACRE AT KILWA

Tags:   PHUM  PGOV  PINS  MOPS  ECON  EMIN  CG 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 002118 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINS MOPS ECON EMIN CG
SUBJECT: POSSIBLE MASSACRE AT KILWA

REF: A. KINSHASA 1931

B. KINSHASA 1965

Classified By: Poloff Edward Bestic for Reasons 1.5 B and D

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 002118

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINS MOPS ECON EMIN CG
SUBJECT: POSSIBLE MASSACRE AT KILWA

REF: A. KINSHASA 1931

B. KINSHASA 1965

Classified By: Poloff Edward Bestic for Reasons 1.5 B and D


1. (C) SUMMARY: According to sources in Katanga province,
the October 2004 "insurgency" at Kilwa on the Congo-Zambia
border was more likely a tragic farce than a real attack, and
government troops may have massacred dozens of civilians when
they recaptured the town. Explanations for the incident
vary, ranging from local resentment against a nearby mine to
a conflict between Katangans within the Presidency. The
allegations of a massacre of civilians by government troops
are believable, and--given the high-level Kinshasa interest
in Dikulushi mine--we can expect GDRC authorities to obstruct
any investigation. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) Poloff visited Lubumbashi and Kalemie in DRC's Katanga
province from Nov. 7-13 and met with local civil and military
officials, diplomats, U.N. and international NGO workers, and
members of civil society. The following--a dissection of the
recent "attack" on the town of Kilwa--is the first in a
series of short cables on the trip.


Kilwa - the Basic Facts
--------------

3. (U) In mid-October, a small group of armed men seized the
town of Kilwa near the Congo-Zambia border, which is about
50km from Dikulushi, a copper and silver mine run by
Australian company Anvil Mining Limited. (Comment: One of
the mine's shareholders is Augustin Katumba Mwanke, former
governor of Katanga province and a top adviser to President
Kabila. End Comment.) Government troops--who had vacated
Kilwa only the day before--responded quickly, and within two
days had captured the insurgent leader and reasserted control
over the town. Military authorities in Lubumbashi later
arrested prominent local politician Christian Mwando Simba in
connection with the events, releasing him after approximately
two weeks' detention. (Note: Mwando's father, Charles Mwando

Simba, is chairman of the political committee in the National
Assembly. End Note.)


4. (C) Gen. Dieugentil Alengbia Nzambe, commander of the 6th
Military Region, told poloff the Kilwa incident was "not
serious." The "insurgents" attacked only after the regular
contingent of troops had withdrawn, and got most of their
weapons from local armories. Alengbia refused to speculate
on who or what was behind the attack, but he said that
contrary to media reports, there were no Portugese-speakers
among the rebels.


Massacre at Kilwa?
--------------

5. (C) One expatriate NGO source who visited Kilwa after the
incident said locals told him the rebels numbered no more
than thirty or forty and had no problems with the local
populace. Several hundred government troops captured the
town almost without a fight, then apparently went after
civilian collaborators. The source said that locals resent
the mine because it employs no Congolese and has done nothing
for them, but added that Anvil is currently looking to
partner up with one or more international NGOs to implement
local development projects.


6. (C) In the opinion of a MONUC official who also traveled
to Kilwa to investigate the incident, the whole thing was a
sham. The locals, mainly of the Bemba tribe, were indeed
angry at Anvil. There were only about five or six armed
rebels, led by a 24-year old (who conveniently died of his
wounds before authorities could question him). These rebels
quickly recruited local youths to their cause, did no damage
to the town, and expected government troops to support them.
They were completely surprised when troops of Pweto garrison
commander Col. Ademar (phonetic)--reportedly an ally of Air
Force commander Gen. John Numbi and Mai-Mai leader
Gedeon--counterattacked instead. Local inhabitants fled when
the army arrived, and soldiers then began to "settle scores"
and loot the town. The MONUC official said locals also
pointed out a mass grave that they claimed contained perhaps
twenty to thirty bodies. (Comment: To date, no one in the
GDRC or MONUC has commented publicly on the possibility of a
massacre at Kilwa. End Comment.)


Mixed Reactions Among Diplomats
--------------

7. (C) Lubumbashi-based diplomats were mixed in their
assessments. A South African diplomat expressed appreciation
that the government's reaction to Dikulushi was strong and
swift, even if it was heavy-handed, because such incidents
were likely to occur more frequently in the run-up to
elections. A Belgian diplomat agreed it was likely a
massacre took place in Kilwa, and asked rhetorically how long
the international community could tolerate such misrule in
the Congo. The diplomat speculated that the Kilwa incident
stemmed from a conflict in President Kabila's inner circle,
between members of the Luba Katanga tribe (such as Air Force
commander John Numbi) and those from other Katangan tribes
(like Katumba Mwanke), and said it was likely President
Kabila knows nothing of the massacre or the extent of the
internal conflict. (Note: The Luba Katanga are the dominant
tribe in the province. They were the backbone of a massive
ethnic-cleansing campaign in Katanga in the early 1990s. End
Note.)

COMMENT
--------------

8. (C) In the DRC, skirmishes over mines are not unheard of,
but they more typically take place in the Kivus and Orientale
Province, not Katanga. It is clear that this particular
"attack" was too weak to succeed on its own, and that the
rebels were merely pawns in a larger game. The allegations
of a massacre of civilians by government troops are entirely
believable, and--given the high-level Kinshasa interest in
Dikulushi mine--we can expect GDRC authorities to obstruct
any investigation. We will continue to raise Kilwa with
presidential advisors, if only to give notice that we suspect
the possibility of foul play. END COMMENT.
MEECE