Congo military intelligence chief dies of heart attack, wife says

FILE PHOTO: Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi arrives an Investment summit in London

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congo's military intelligence chief died on Friday after suffering a heart attack, his wife said, following media reports that an investigation had been opened into allegations that he tried to destabilise the country.

Delphin Kahimbi was also under European Union sanctions over alleged human rights abuses when he commanded operations against rebels in east Democratic Republic of Congo in the 200Os and during his tenure as military intelligence chief.

Kahimbi was appointed by former President Joseph Kabila, and his successor as head of state, Felix Tshisekedi, had been under pressure from the United States to hold the general to account for alleged human rights abuses.

"He had a heart attack at home and he died soon after we arrived at the hospital," his wife, Brenda Kahimbi, told Reuters by phone.

Two sources in the security service said Kahimbi had recently been suspended over the accusations that he had sought to hide weapons and destabilise the country.

Kahimbi had also been barred this month from leaving the country, the security sources and two sources in the migration service said.

The military confirmed Kahimbi's death but did not confirm the cause or comment on the accusations against him or the reports that he had been suspended.

"All steps have been taken to clarify the circumstances of this sad loss," a representative of the military high command, Don de Dieu Kilumba, said in a video statement, announcing the launch of an investigation.

Kahimbi was included in December 2016 on a list of Democratic Republic of Congo officials whose assets were frozen and were barred from travelling to the EU.

In response to reports that Kahimbi had been suspended, the U.S. ambassador to Congo, Mike Hammer, wrote on Twitter on Thursday: "As we have consistently said, those who are corrupt, commit violations of human rights, or disrupt the democratic process should be held accountable."


(Reporting by Stanis Bujakera; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Daniel Wallis)