February 28, 2011 / 3:50 PM / 7 years ago

Kenyan killed in Congo gold smuggling probe

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A senior Kenyan official has been shot dead while investigating gold smuggling from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenyan police said on Monday.

Eric Kiraithe, a police spokesman, said the man was an official at Kenya’s Revenue Authority.

“We have not arrested any suspects involved in gold smuggling but we have identified three Kenyans who are part of the cartels involved in gold smuggling,” he said.

Police commissioner Matthew Iteere told reporters an investigation had been launched into the shooting.

Kenyan media said the official was shot by four armed men at the weekend while he was sitting in his car, waiting for the gate to his house to be opened.

They said he was leading the investigation into the discovery of two and a half tonnes of gold worth about $100 million.

An unnamed official in Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province told Reuters last week that “large amounts” of gold from eastern Congo had been recovered in Nairobi and Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam.

Congo’s government has not confirmed the smuggling.

Three provinces in Congo’s east are subject to a mining ban imposed last year by President Joseph Kabila to weed out what he called the “mafia groups” controlling the mineral trade.

A United Nations report published last year said the gold trade in North and South Kivu provinces was worth around $160 million per year, with at least 80 percent of it smuggled illegally out of the country.

Earlier this month seven foreigners were arrested in the eastern city of Goma on suspicion of trying to smuggle hundreds of kilograms of gold from the country.

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