At least three U.S. citizens - accused of being CIA agents - are arrested in Congo after failed coup: Three people killed in shootout at presidential palace and home of close ally

Three US citizens seized by government forces in the Congolese capital Kinshasa after 'failed coup attempt' Two bloodied and battered men pleaded for mercy following their arrestThis is a breaking news story 

Three Americans have been arrested over their alleged involvement in a failed coup in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Video shows what is thought to be two of the men groveling for mercy on the ground as they were surrounded by government forces following a shootout in the capital Kinshasa on Sunday.

Reports in local media suggested the arrested men were CIA operatives although the US ambassador in the city was keen to distance the US from any involvement.

'I am shocked by the events this morning and very worried by the reports of American citizens allegedly being involved,' Lucy Tamlyn, the US ambassador to the DRC, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

'Rest assured that we are cooperating with authorities in DRC to the fullest extent possible, as they investigate these criminal acts and hold accountable any American citizen involved.'

The two men, thought to be Americans pleaded for mercy as they were surrounded by Congolese forces in the capital Kinshasa

The two men, thought to be Americans pleaded for mercy as they were surrounded by Congolese forces in the capital Kinshasa

The men appeared bloodied at battered as they sat in the street following the failed coup

The men appeared bloodied at battered as they sat in the street following the failed coup

The DR Congo military on Sunday said it had thwarted an 'attempted coup' near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa involving 'foreigners and Congolese'.

It happened in the early hours of the morning outside the residence of Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe, in the Gombe area in the north of the capital, near the Palais de la Nation that houses the president's offices, a spokesman said.

'An attempted coup d'etat has been stopped by the defense and security forces,' said General Sylvain Ekenge in a message broadcast on national television.

'Around 50, including three American citizens - were arrested and are currently undergoing interrogation by the specialized services of the Armed Forces,' Ekenge told Reuters.

Shots were also heard near the Palais de la Nation at the time of the coup attempt, according to a number of sources.

Later on Sunday, army spokesman General Sylvain Ekenge said a British man were part of the group involved in the operation.

The coup bid was led by Christian Malanga, a Congolese man who was a 'naturalized American' and had been 'definitively neutralized' by the security forces, Ekenge said in a broadcast on Sunday evening.

Malanga, who went to school in Salt Lake City posted a video to Facebook hours before the attack showing a group of heavily armed paramilitaries.

Another American voice can be heard, and one of the men later seen begging for mercy is seen in frame, with a US flag on his uniform.

A US passport reportedly recovered from one of the arrested men

A US passport reportedly recovered from one of the arrested men

Simon Ateba, Chief White House Correspondent at Today News Africa, said the men were reported locally to be CIA agents but the US ambassador denied any involvement in the coup

Simon Ateba, Chief White House Correspondent at Today News Africa, said the men were reported locally to be CIA agents but the US ambassador denied any involvement in the coup

One of the alleged Americans was seen with Malanga's men as they assembled at a Kinshasa location ahead of the coup attempt

One of the alleged Americans was seen with Malanga's men as they assembled at a Kinshasa location ahead of the coup attempt

The group filmed themselves as they arrived at the president's office in the Palais de la Nation

The group filmed themselves as they arrived at the president's office in the Palais de la Nation

Videos on social media showed men in fatigues arriving at the Palais de la Nation, brandishing flags of Zaire - the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was overthrown in 1997.

'The time has arrived, long live Zaire, long live the children of Mobutu,' a man who appeared to be the head of the group said in Lingala, a language spoken in parts of the DRC.

'Felix has fallen... we are victorious,' he added.

The group was made up of 'several nationalities', Ekenge said, and that four attackers including Malanga were killed.

'We also have a naturalized British subject, the number two of the group,' the spokesman added. Malanga's son, Marcel Malanga, was also among the attackers, he said.

Kamerhe and his family were not harmed in the attack but two police officers looking after them were killed, said a source close to the minister.

The group had planned to attack the home of the new Prime Minister Judith Suminwa, and the residence of Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba.

But they 'could not identify the home' of Suminwa and had not been able to find Bemba at his residence.

After the attack at Kamerhe's home, the group then went to the Palais de la Nation, brandishing flags of Zaire, the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was overthrown in 1997.

Tshisekedi was re-elected at the end of December when he received more than 70 percent of votes

Tshisekedi was re-elected at the end of December when he received more than 70 percent of votes

🇨🇩 Christian Malanga entrain d’implorer Dieu lors de l’attaque de ce matin au palais de la Nation : « Dieu tu nous a pas menti, Nous t'implorons Dieu, le Zaïre est là. Dieu, tu es un miséricordieux, écoute nos pleures » pic.twitter.com/yeRXUmX4Fb

— The Voice Of Congo (@VoiceOfCongo) May 19, 2024

France's ambassador had reported automatic weapon fire in the area, urging nationals to avoid it.

During the day, certain streets near the Palais de la Nation remained closed to traffic, but the situation appeared calm, AFP journalists reported.

'I'm a little afraid to move around like that in Gombe, there aren't many people... But I have to sell my goods,' bread-seller Jean-Mbuta said.

Tshisekedi was re-elected at the end of December when he received more than 70 percent of votes in the first round.

The parties backing him won around 90 percent of seats in the parliamentary elections held the same day.

But he is yet to form a government some five months after the elections.

Kamerhe on April 23 was named as a candidate for president of the National Assembly, the DRC's main legislative body.

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