The US Embassy in Kinshasa has issued a warning over a series of recent large-scale prison breaks from prisons in Kinshasa, Beni, and Kasangulu. Authorities have installed a number of checkpoints in Gombe, Limete, Ngaba, Kintambo, Ngaliema, Ndjili, Mont Ngafula, and around Camp Kokolo, as they attempt to locate the escapees.
The embassy also warned of an upsurge in robberies following the prison breaks, after receiving multiple reports of individuals impersonating local security force members throughout Kinshasa. Impersonators generally pretend to be off duty police officers searching for escaped prisoners, before gaining access to victim's vehicles and robbing them.
The US Embassy has advised travelers to slow down when approaching checkpoints, comply with officers and soldiers as directed, remain calm and courteous, ask permission to pull the vehicle aside if soldiers insist on searching the car, and only leave the checkpoint once instructed to do so.
According to local sources, at least 930 detainees escaped from a prison in Beni (North Kivu) on Sunday, June 11. Heavy gunfire was reported when unidentified assailants attacked the prison at approximately 15:30 (local time), killing eight soldiers. A nightly curfew starting at 18:30 (local time) has been established in Beni and surrounding areas and will remain in place until further notice.
Multiple attacks of this nature at prisons across the DRC have been reported in the past month. Overnight from June 10-11, two similar attacks occurred in the capital Kinshasa, one inside the mont Amba district police station, and one at a Matete courthouse, both located in the Matete district. On May 19, approximately 70 prisoners escaped the Kasangulu jail in Congo Central province. It is unclear if the prison breaks are related.
Individuals present in the DRC are advised to monitor the situation and to obey all instructions issued by the local authorities.
More generally, individuals in the DRC are advised to exercise caution and maintain a low profile at all times. For various security reasons, a number of Western governments advise their citizens against travel to the east and northeast of the country.
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