BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - Eleven people, including a former rebel leader, have been killed in Congo Republic in a clash between police and a group of immigrants from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), police said on Sunday.
The clash came amid heightened tensions between the two countries after Congo Republic expelled more than 70,000 DRC citizens in an operation Brazzaville officials say is aimed at ending a crime wave linked to foreigners.
Among those killed in Saturday’s clash were three policemen and a former DCR rebel leader, Udjani Mangbama, who fought in the so-called Dongo rebellion in northwest Congo in 2009.
Police said they had come under attack from a group of DRC nationals waving machetes after following up on complaints from local residents in the town of Owando, about 500 km (300 miles) north of Brazzaville.
Three people were killed in the initial confrontation and seven more, including Mangbama, died after police pursued the group in a car chase, the police statement said, adding that the situation in the area had now returned to normal.
Tens of thousands of refugees from northwest DRC spilled across the border into Congo Republic in 2009 when inter-ethnic fighting broke out over access to fishing ponds.
Reporting by Christian Brice Elion; Additional reporting by Pete Jones; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Gareth Jones