AFRICA/CONGO - The trial for the explosions of 2012 has begun; several victims still homeless

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Brazzaville (Agenzia Fides) - On August 6, the trial of a dozen soldiers accused of causing a series of explosions in the barracks of Mpila situated in a suburban area of the capital of the Republic of Congo began in Brazzaville.
On Sunday, March 4, 2012, four powerful explosions had devastated Brazzaville to the point that the people feared a new war. As a result, numerous small explosions followed due to a fire of the national Arsenal of the Mpila army, in the eastern outskirts of the capital, where the private residence of the President of the Republic, Denis Sassou Nguesso is situated.
The outbreak of missiles, bombs and ammunition had almost destroyed the buildings of densely populated neighborhoods of Talangaï, Ouenzé and Mpila, causing, according to official sources, 282 deaths, more than 2,300 injuries and 17,000 homeless. The shock wave of the explosion reached Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, causing material damage and panic among the population.
Even different church structures were severely damaged: the church of St. Luigi dei Francesi, in the area of Mpila, collapsed shortly after the conclusion of the Sunday Mass: the parish priest, after the first loud explosion managed to evacuate the place of worship, but a group of believers, members of a brotherhood, remained in the building, which collapsed shortly after following the second explosion, causing some deaths and injuries. Even the high school of the Sisters of Divine Providence in Ribeauvillé, in the area of Ouenzé, was partly destroyed, making it virtually unusable. Many parishes, schools and care facilities of the Catholic Church were damaged. The Catholic Church, since the first hours after the disaster, was at the forefront to assist the injured and make available its facilities in order to provide shelter, food and assistance to those who had been affected by the incident. Some 14,000 people were housed in facilities by the Archdiocese, such as Mariale Place, adjacent to the Cathedral, where nine thousand people found refuge; the parish of Notre-Dame du Rosaire in the populous area of Bacongo welcomed twelve hundred displaced; communities of the Ugandan Martyrs, St. Gregory of Massengo and many others opened the doors of hospitality.
According to local sources of Fides, the tragedy was caused by some military circles to express to the President of the Republic their discontent, related to some promotions within the army. It seems that those responsible for the alleged attack, however, did not calculate the devastating effects of the explosions which escaped their control, causing several deaths and injuries among the soldiers in service.
The State as well as compensating the victims, had promised to finance the construction of a new neighborhood, with five thousand homes in Kintelé, about 25 km from the capital. These provisions, apparently positive, have instead created social tension among the population: the lists of those entitled to compensation, in fact, are incomplete and have ruled out most of the victims. On August 1, police dispersed a demonstration of displaced people still protesting because they are forced to live in makeshift tents. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 08/08/2013)