Government denies gunfire at DR Congo military airport

KINSHASA - The government in DR Congo on Thursday denied reports of gunfire at a military airport in Kinshasa, days after a wave of coordinated attacks that left more than 100 dead.

A source at the Ndolo airport had told AFP of an exchange of gunfire between troops and "a vehicle full of unidentified armed men."

But government spokesman Lambert Mende told said that a soldier acting as a security guard at a nearby firm had opened fire to scare away a potential thief.

"It's an incident that happened outside Ndolo airport, although a soldier from the naval force was involved," Mende told AFP.

A second source, Georges Tabora, who commands the international airport at Ndjili, some 10 kilometres (6 miles) from Ndolo airport, also denied the earlier reports.

The gunshots "are not at Ndolo airport," he said.

He also said that the fire took place "on the periphery of the airport, near a factory. There were no shots at the airport."

However Tabora said that the shooting occurred after a soldier tried steal money from someone leaving the factory.

"This person put up resistance (to the soldier). People came to his aid and the soldier shot in the air to disburse the crowd and get away," he added.

On Monday, armed youths believed to be loyal to a pastor who challenged President Joseph Kabila in elections seven years ago stormed the state television station, the international airport and the military headquarters.

According to government spokesman Lambert Mende, a total of 103 people were killed in Monday's violence - 95 attackers and eight members of the armed forces.