afrol News, 3 November - Franck Kangundu, a veteran political affairs journalist at the independent daily 'La Référence Plus', was shot dead shortly after midnight by unidentified assassins who accosted him at his home in the capital, Kinshasa. The attackers also killed Mr Kangundu's wife, Hélène Mpaka.
The Kinshasa-based press freedom organisation Journaliste en Danger (JED) reported that several masked men had approached Mr Kangundu in front of his house, forced their way in, and shot his wife as she tried to escape.
When Mr Kangundu offered them money and his car if they would let him go, the assailants replied that they had been "sent to kill him," according to witnesses interviewed by JED whose names were withheld. The assailants took the journalist's mobile phone before leaving.
The motive for the killings is unknown. JED and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) are investigating whether Mr Kangundu was targeted for his journalistic work.
52-year-old Mr Kangundu worked for 'La Référence Plus' for more than 10 years and was well-respected by his colleagues, local journalists said. He covered a variety of topics for the newspaper, including the sometimes acrimonious relations between political parties in the Congo Kinshasa's power-sharing government, as well as business and economic issues.
Press freedom organisations are concerned about the deteriorating climate in the country, where journalists feel less and less safe. A large number of press freedom violations have been registered during the last few weeks, indicating a tougher climate.
Government security forces' detained two Kinshasa-based journalists in the past week. On Wednesday, security forces arrested Patrice Booto, publisher of the thrice-weekly 'Le Journal' and its sister publication, 'Pool Malebo'. Mr Booto was detained at a police station in the capital, but he was not publicly charged, according to JED.
Both publications were suspended for three months in September by the independent but officially sanctioned High Authority on Media (HAM), after they published articles alleging that the Congolese government had given a large sum of money to Tanzanian education agencies.
Jean-Marie Kanku, publisher of the private newspaper 'Alerte', was arrested on 28 October by the national intelligence agency, known as the ANR, and remains in detention. However, there has been no official explanation for Mr Kanku's arrest, and he has not been publicly charged.
His family has not been allowed to visit him, and his health is deteriorating, JED reported this week. Mr Kanku was arrested after 'Alerte' printed an interview with Member of Parliament Thierry Bongo, who attacked ANR director Lando Lurhakumbirwa.
CPJ today issued a statement, voicing concerns over the "deteriorating press freedom conditions" in Congo Kinshasa. Ann Cooper, CPJ's executive director, said she mourned the death of Mr Kangundu and his wife, Hélène Mpaka. "Congolese authorities must ensure a prompt, transparent investigation, and those responsible must be swiftly brought to justice," she urged.
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