Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Three Americans Arrested in Congo Coup Plot 26 Security Workers Suspected


JOHANNESBURG, May 24 -- Three Americans were among at least 26 security workers arrested and jailed last week in Congo on suspicion of plotting a coup in advance of national elections in July, officials and news services reported Wednesday.

Fifteen of the suspects are employed by a South African security company, Omega Risk Solutions, which has offices in Pretoria, the South African capital. A company official, Christo Roelefse, said the Americans who were arrested work for two U.S. companies that are arranging security and logistics for the campaign of a presidential candidate in Congo. The other suspects are Nigerians.

From Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, Interior Minister Theophile Mbemba told the Associated Press that 32 men were arrested Friday with military gear. "It is clear that they were military personnel with political plans. . . . They were part of a coup attempt, and they will face justice in Congo."

A spokesman for the South African Foreign Ministry, Ronnie Mamoepa, said the arrests were made on the grounds of "alleged destabilization of government institutions" but that no charges have been filed.

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