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Failed coup in Congo: 3 ‘CIA operatives’ arrested in dramatic shootout

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NEW DELHI: Three Americans have been arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for their alleged involvement in a failed coup attempt. The men were apprehended following a shootout in the capital, Kinshasa, and are believed to be CIA operatives, though the US government has denied any official involvement.
Video footage circulating on social media shows two of the arrested men, thought to be Americans, pleading for mercy as they are surrounded by Congolese forces.The men appeared bloodied and battered, sitting on the ground after the failed coup attempt, a Daily Mail report said.
US ambassador to the DRC, Lucy Tamlyn, expressed shock and concern over the events. “I am shocked by the events this morning and very worried by the reports of American citizens allegedly being involved,” she 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 DRC military identified the coup leader as Christian Malanga, a 41-year-old US-educated former refugee who had become a naturalized American. Malanga, along with his son Marcel, was among those arrested by the military.
A passport reportedly seized from one of the Americans bore the name Benjamin Zalman-Polun, a 36-year-old from Maryland with a background as a cannabis entrepreneur. Zalman-Polun was previously linked to Malanga.
The attempted coup took place near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa. General Sylvain Ekenge, a spokesman for the DRC military, announced on national television that the coup attempt had been thwarted and that around 50 individuals, including three Americans, were arrested and are currently undergoing interrogation.
Footage showed heavily armed paramilitaries, including individuals with US flags on their uniforms, arriving at the president’s office in the Palais de la Nation. The group, reportedly comprising several nationalities, included a naturalized British subject who was the second-in-command.
The coup attempt targeted the homes of key government figures, including Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe and Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba, but failed to locate the residences.
The DRC has been plagued by violence from paramilitary groups vying for control of its mineral-rich resources. In recent months, there has been growing concern over waning US influence in Africa amid aggressive Chinese and Russian diplomacy.
President Felix Tshisekedi, re-elected with over 70% of the vote, has faced accusations of arresting opposition members with impunity. Streets near the Palais de la Nation remained closed to traffic following the coup attempt, although the situation appeared calm, according to AFP journalists.
The arrests of the Americans and the failed coup attempt underscore the ongoing instability and geopolitical tensions in the DRC and the broader region.

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