April 5, 2016 / 1:42 PM / a year ago

Three police officers, two gunmen killed in Brazzaville fighting on Monday

Anti-government protesters set up barricades on a road in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, April 4, 2016.Roch Bouka

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - Three police officers and two gunmen were killed in Congo Republic's capital in heavy fighting touched off by President Denis Sassou Nguesso's disputed re-election, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

Gunfights broke out on Monday in southern Brazzaville, an opposition stronghold, shattering the relative calm since the March 20 election that opposition candidates say was fraudulent.

Police spokesman Jules Monkala Tchoumou said the five deaths occurred during clashes in Brazzaville on Monday.

The government said former members of the "Ninja" militia that fought Sassou Nguesso in a 1997 civil war raided and set alight military, police and local government offices.

Residents of southern neighborhoods of the capital said that they had seen armed men in civilian attire but could not confirm whether they were indeed former Ninja militiamen.

Brazzaville was quiet on Tuesday morning, though many shops and schools remained closed and only a few residents of southern neighborhoods who had fled to the north on Monday were willing to return home.

Sassou Nguesso has ruled the oil-producing Central African country for 32 of the last 37 years. He won re-election after pushing through a constitutional referendum last October that lifted age and term limits that would have prevented him from standing.

Reporting by Christian Elion; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Edward McAllister/Mark Heinrich

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