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Attempted Brussels Firebombing Linked to Congo’s Elections

Belgian police thwarted an attempt to firebomb a music concert in central Brussels Saturday by a Congolese militant in what is understood to be a politically motivated act in the lead-up to the African nation’s hotly contested election this week.

Local media reported that authorities arrested a 53-year-old man of Congolese origin at around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The suspect attempted to enter a concert at the city’s ING Arena carrying lighters and bottles of petrol in what is believed to have been an attempt to firebomb the event.

The man—who has links to the activist group “Combattants Congolais” that opposes the ruling Tshisekedi regime in the African country—first raised suspicion when he told onlookers entering the concert of his intention to set his car on fire. 

At the time, the venue was hosting Congolese musician Fally Ipupa—known for his apparent sympathy with the ruling regime—who has incurred the wrath of anti-government groups such as “Combattants Congolais,” who regularly harass his concerts.

A police spokesperson confirmed that the yet-to-be-named Congolese man was arrested and has admitted acting for political reasons. Despite the arrest, the concert proceeded uninterrupted.

International attention is on Congo this week in the final days of an election campaign that pits the country’s pro-Western incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi against an array of challengers, amid a tribal rebellion in the east of the country by M23 rebels. The situation is further complicated by the eruption of street-level political violence s between rival political and tribal factions.

Tshisekedi earned international notoriety for rigging his 2018 election, but has since safeguarded his position in the mineral-rich African state through alliances with the West against Russia and China. Despite the rapidly expanding rebellion by Rwandan-backed rebels on its eastern frontier, Congo remains of growing strategic importance to Europe and America due to its mineral resources. 

Human rights organisations have warned of the potential for violence in Congo this week, as local sources report the shooting deaths of two candidates days before voting opens in the December 20th election.

In an unrelated incident, an 82-year-old Belgian priest was stabbed to death in the Congolese capital of Kinasha Tuesday. Local authorities failed to establish a clear motive for the murder amid the worsening political situation.

Congo remained a Belgian colony until independence in 1960. Recent census estimates placed the Congolese diaspora in Belgium at over 100,000 strong.

Source: European Conservative