* Mining, transport unaffected by attack, governor says
* Raid on city tarnishes province's safe image
* Region produces huge amounts of copper, cobalt, tin
By Bienvenu Bakumanya and Clara Ferreira-Marques
KINSHASA/LONDON, March 25 An attack by some 300
rebels on the Democratic Republic of Congo's second city,
Lubumbashi, has tarnished the image of the country's mining hub
but has not interrupted operations, the region's governor said
Lubumbashi and the wider southern province of Katanga have
been seen as among the safest in a country riven by armed
conflict. Billions of dollars of investment have poured in to
tap its copper, cobalt and tin deposits following years of
But the region also has some of Congo's poorest pockets, and
rebel fighters feeding off local grievances and decades-old
secessionist sentiment have run increasingly audacious forays
outside their heartland in the region's northeast.
The government said on Sunday around 300 Mai Mai Kata
Katanga separatists attacked the city armed mainly with bows and
arrows and machetes. It said troops killed about 15 of them
while nearly 250 others surrendered.
A witness to Saturday's attack said the group had attempted
to hoist the flag of Katanga's short-lived 1960s-era independent
republic before members of the army's elite Republican Guard
launched a counter-attack.
"People are freely going about their business. I have just
toured the city to offer moral support to those touched by the
events," Katanga's influential governor, Moise Katumbi, said in
a telephone interview.
"But this type of action, carried out by adventurers,
tarnishes the image of our city and our province."
Katumbi said the situation was normal on Congo's critical
frontier with Zambia, a gateway for the bulk of the copper
produced in Katanga.
The province hosts several international mining companies,
including Freeport McMoRan and commodities trader
Glencore and exports about half a million tonnes of
copper a year.
An official for Freeport said the company was operating
normally. "Our transport routes are secure... TFM employees from
Lubumbashi and Kolwezi have reported to work. There has been no
additional need for security measures at this time," said
Dieudonne Lukoji, a Freeport spokesman.
Glencore and ENRC, among the largest mining
companies operating in the region, declined to comment.
Industry officials in the area said mines across the
province were operating normally, with copper being transported
out after customs officials resumed work.
"Things are going as usual. No delays because of the attacks
this weekend," one logistics industry source said. "We are
loading and dispatching trucks normally."
"The events happened over the weekend. This morning, we have
been able to export. The immediate impact is barely
perceptible," said Eric Monga, president of the mining sector of
the Katanga chapter of the Congo Business Federation.
Millions have died in the vast former Belgian colony's
long-simmering armed conflicts concentrated in the eastern
borderlands. A separate rebellion briefly saw insurgents seize
the capital of North Kivu province's capital, Goma, before
fighters withdrew to allow for peace talks.
It remained unclear whether the Mai Mai Kata Katanga was
likely to continue attacks in the region.
"These disturbances have not had a big impact on mining
activity, since most of the mining operations are outside
Lubumbashi," said Jean-Pierre Muteba, spokesman for a coalition
of civil society groups in Katanga.
"But in the long term, this could hurt our image."