Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Planes Drop Off Aid In Restive Brazzaville

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo -- Planeloads of medical and military aid began arriving in the capital Tuesday to help its recovery after four months of combat, but despite the war's end, the situation was far from calm.


A French trooper guarding the French Embassy in Brazzaville was wounded by gunfire overnight, and three French citizens were reported detained in the oil capital, Pointe Noire, by forces of the new ruler, General Denis Sassou-Nguesso. In and around the capital, hospitals were overrun by people in need of medical care but unable to get it because of a lack of supplies.


"You are here to convey hope and relief to the hundreds of wounded and hundreds of thousands of people who fled and who are scared or who refuse to come back,'' French Ambassador Raymond Cesaire told a team of 38 French medical workers after their arrival early Tuesday in Brazzaville. The team is to remain in the city at least two weeks and will set up a 40-bed hospital with surgeries and a special pediatrics unit.


The French will work with a United Nations team which arrived earlier Tuesday and which will evaluate humanitarian needs after consulting with government officials, said the mission coordinator, Eric Laroche, of UNICEF.


Also Tuesday, an Angolan cargo plane delivered military equipment and fuel, a sign of that government's strong support for Sassou-Nguesso's armed overthrow of President Pascal Lissouba. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Monday promised to help Sassou-Nguesso assume control over the country that he led as a military dictator from 1979-91.


Demands for democratic reforms and economic improvements forced Sassou-Nguesso from office and led to the first multiparty elections in 1992, which Lissouba won. The two men had been scheduled to face each other again in July elections, but fighting between their private militias erupted June 5 and the vote never took place.


Angola's support for Sassou-Nguesso stemmed from Lissouba's relations with Angolan rebel groups who had turned to Lissouba for backing after the May overthrow of their main regional ally, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire.


Lissouba fled the country over the weekend and has sought refuge in Burkina Faso, along with about 30 relatives and close associates.


In Republic of Congo's second-largest city and main commercial center, Pointe Noire, three French citizens apparently accused of helping Lissouba were in detention. Dominique Pedinielle said her brother-in-law and two others had been held in a police station since the weekend.


Pedinielle said her brother-in-law, Pierre-Henri Bru, a businessman, knows Lissouba, but not well.


There was no word from Sassou-Nguesso on the detentions, but French officials said they were aware of the situation and the consulate was working to resolve it.


Sassou-Nguesso remained in his hometown of Oyo, 400 kilometers outside Brazzaville, and was not likely to come to the capital until the situation was calmer.