Missionary Arrested While Transporting Sick To Hospital

Amidst armed confrontation in city of Kisangani

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ROME, May 15, 2002 (ZENIT.org).- A Spanish missionary was arrested Tuesday amidst the violence taking place in Kisangani, north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Father Xavier Zabalo, Jesuit in the parish of Cristo Rey, on the border of Mangobo, was detained by the military while driving some sick to the hospital, Misna news agency reported.

He had offered his assistance to the wounded in his city. Obliging him to get out of the car, the soldiers interrogated him and then sequestered his car and brought them to an unknown locality, of which nor more information has been obtained

In Kisangani, The number of victims from the fighting which broke out Tuesday morning, has risen to 9.

Misna sources specify that there are 2 Congolese soldiers, 2 Rwandan soldiers and 5 civilians dead. One victim was a 4-year-old child, most likely hit by a stray bullet while asleep.

A Kigali soldier, after his death, was burned near the Congo Palace hotel. In another episode, a Rwandan soldier shot a civilian dead in front of a UN observer.

The last gunshots in the city were heard around 11:00, after which, the situation calmed down. According to some, it was a timid attempt by a faction within the rebel movement to revolt against the Rwandan forces and the RCD-Goma (Congolese Rally for Democracy).

The group is supposedly led by a former official of the RCD-Goma, Songolo Nura, who at the start of the year created the RCD-original, which placed as a first priority the eradication of foreign military contingents from the nation.

The first to suffer in this case are the inhabitants of the neighbourhoods, who answered the appeals launched over the radio by the faction, and took to the streets, attacking the Rwandan soldiers.

Retaliations could follow in the next few hours. The local authorities have generically accused the civil society of being responsible of the incident, imposing a curfew and forbidding any kind of public meeting.