US man seen ‘begging for life’ during failed Congo coup attempt

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A 21-year-old American was reportedly on his first trip abroad when he became “embroiled” in a failed coup attempt in Congo.

In a video shared online, he appeared to be begging for his life; his fate is still unknown.

Fifty people, including three Americans, were arrested in connection with a wild plot to overthrow the Congolese government. New York Post reports.

The coup was led by 41-year-old Christian Malanga, who was shot dead in the failed uprising on Sunday.

The U.S. citizens arrested for their alleged involvement in the failed attack are 21-year-old Tyler Thompson, convicted marijuana dealer Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun and Malanga’s son, 21-year-old Utah high school football player Marcel Malanga.

Thompson’s stepmother, Miranda Thompson, told ABC News her stepson traveled abroad for the first time last month to visit the family of his close friend Marcel – with whom teammates said he played football in West Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah.

She added that it was also the first time he had flown alone.

It is unclear whether and what role Thompson played in the failed coup.

According to Thompson’s family, they thought he was on vacation in South Africa when the shocking incident occurred.

Miranda claimed that Thompson told them in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) that their vacation had been interrupted by a bout of malaria and that Malanga offered to cover the cost of extending the trip and “making up for lost time,” ABC News reports.

She said she had not been informed of any travel plans to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We have no idea how he got involved in all this. He was on holiday with his friend’s family and the next thing we know he was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We don’t know what brought him there or how he got there,” she told the Times of London.

“All we know about Marcel is that he was a kind and respectful boy. This is a complete reversal from everything we know about him.”

She said that when she later saw pictures of his arrest and mistreatment by Congolese soldiers, she was “completely shocked”.

“It doesn’t feel real,” she said.

“The videos of the coup attempt that we have seen leave us stunned and shocked.

“We have no idea how he got into this situation, which is completely uncharacteristic of him. We are sure that he did not go to Africa with any plans for political engagement.”

In video footage of the arrests, widely shared on social media, Thompson can be seen with a frightened, blood-stained face, surrounded by Congolese soldiers.

After Thompson apparently begged for his life, he and Marcel were forced to stand while soldiers handcuffed their hands behind their backs.

The Congolese government has not confirmed whether Thompson is still alive, leaving his relatives in great fear.

Christian Malanga, who was exiled from Congo to the United States where he became a naturalized citizen, headed the United Congolese Party, which describes itself as an “opposition political party in exile.”

Malanga appeared accompanied by armed men in a livestream video posted on Facebook on the morning of the attack. In it, he accused the government of President Felix Tshisekedi of doing “a lot of stupid things in this country,” ^ “Reuters”.

Zalman-Polun was apparently connected to Marcel’s father through a gold mining company – suggesting that the insurgency itself may have had ties to one or both industries.

A later statement by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo praised the “rapid response” of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s security forces in thwarting the attack.

This story first appeared on New York Post and has been reproduced here with permission.

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