Kinshasa - Eight suspected members of an outlawed political-religious group were critically injured and 22 arrested in clashes with police in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) capital, police sources said on Tuesday.
Violence erupted late Monday and continued into Tuesday when police stormed a house believed to harbour members of the Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) movement.
BDK stands for "Kingdom of the Kongo" in the Kikongo language and members, known as the Makessa, are hostile to the police as symbols of the vast central African state’s authority.
"Twenty-two people were arrested including eight who were critically injured," said police spokesperson Pierre Rombaut Mwanamputu.
He said two cars were torched by BDK members and that police recovered six automatic rifles.
The movement, concentrated in the southwest, seeks the restoration of the former Congolese kingdom inside pre-colonial boundaries, which would comprise parts of Angola, Congo and Gabon.
Police and other witnesses told AFP shots could be heard near the residence of BDK’s spiritual leader Ne Muanda Nsemi, which was cordoned off by police.
Nsemi, a member of parliament in Kinshasa who has never been arrested, was not found.
In videos recently posted online, Nsemi called for an insurrection against President Joseph Kabila.
"In two weeks, I will strike," he says in one video posted a few days ago.
The government has accused BDK followers of a string of violent attacks in western DRC since January.
The government says violent clashes between the group and police killed 27 people in 2008, while UN and civilian sources put the death toll at nearer 100.