Congolese security forces have arrested about 40 people including a US diplomat, musicians and journalists who were participating in the launch of a civil society group, a government spokesman and witnesses said.

Democracy advocates from Congo, Senegal and Burkina Faso were among those arrested while launching the so-called Filimbi group at a cultural centre in Kinshasa on Sunday.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende confirmed to dpa that a US diplomat was among those being held. The US embassy in Kinshasa has not commented on the events.

“Security services apparently accuse the detainees of maintaining a rebel movement aiming at inciting young people against the authorities,” Mende said.

Some of the arrested journalists were later released.

More than 40 people were killed in January during violent protests against planned constitutional changes aiming to keep President Joseph Kabila in office after the end of his second term in December 2016.

GNA

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