Supporters of Bundu dia Kongo (BDK), a religious cult, look on as Red Cross members remove dead bodies from Ne Muanda Nsemi's house in Ngaliema, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo February 14, 2017.
A resident holds up a Bundu dia Kongo manifesto left behind after a police crackdown on the religious and political movement in Matadi, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile Bas Congo province, March 18, 2008.
Democratic Republic Congo's President Joseph Kabila attends the signing ceremony of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes, at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 24, 2013.
Congo police made a pre-dawn raid on a separatist group in the capital Kinshasa on Tuesday, killing at least four people but failing to arrest their leader, a self-styled religious prophet, witnesses and group members said.
Dozens of armed police stormed the home of Ne Muanda Nsemi, a member of parliament and leader of Bundu dia Kongo (BDK), a religious cult seeking to revive the pre-colonial Kongo kingdom that flourished for centuries around the mouth of the Congo river.
Police have clashed with BDK members several times in the past few weeks in their western heartland of Kongo Central province, but the spread of violence to the capital, hundreds of kilometers away, marks a serious escalation.
It also adds to wider tensions across Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down after his mandate expired in December, raising fears of a slide back into civil war.
"We are looking for (Nsemi). We are going to find him," said Communications Minister Lambert Mende. He said he was not aware of any deaths and denied police had fired live ammunition.
A police spokesman, Pierre Mwanamputu, said Nsemi's supporters had participated in an "armed insurrectional movement" in Kinshasa on Monday.
The surrounding neighborhood, inhabited by hundreds of Nsemi's supporters, was quiet on Tuesday afternoon, with police patrolling the perimeter while the Red Cross removed the bodies of four BDK members shot dead in the morning's fighting.
Residents believe the raid may have been provoked by a video circulating on social media in which Nsemi appears to threaten Kabila.
Nsemi and his followers are angry the group did not receive ministerial posts in a power-sharing government named in December.
"We demand our independence because there are too many injustices against us," said supporter Luyindula Kitembo, 35, as he watched the bodies being loaded into a Red Cross van.
(from Wikipedia+ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/bundu-dia-kongo.htm)
According to a United Nations report, the BDK was founded in 1969. Provincial officials estimate the group has about 100,000 followers in a province of nearly three million. The BDK is led by Ne Muanda Nsemi, a self-styled "spiritual leader" of BDK who serves as its ultimate authority figure and "prophet."
The Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) claims to defend the cultural and economic interests of the indigenous people of DRC's Bas-Congo province. Congolese officials contend BDK uses its religious status as a cover for violent activities. The group is in reality a separatist sect with a long history of often violent confrontation with state security forces.
Outgoing Governor Jacques Mbadu, who visited a BDK "camp" outside Matadi in December 2006, said the movement preaches violence, trains its members in using crude weapons. Congolese military (FARDC) regional commander General Muyamba Nsiona said BDK instructs many of its members in the use of weapons and violence.
Alleged Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) abuses in Bas-Congo province include harassment of missionaries and non-Kongo residents, usurping border control functions, and holding trials and meting out sentences, including the death penalty.