Felix Tshisekedi (R) and Vital Kamerhe campaigning in Kinshasa November 2018
Felix Tshisekedi (R) and Vital Kamerhe campaigning in Kinshasa November 2018 AFP

The DR Congo military on Sunday said it had thwarted an "attempted coup" near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa involving "foreigners and Congolese".

It happened in the early hours of the morning outside the residence of Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe, in the Gombe area in the north of the capital, near the Palais de la Nation that houses the president's offices, a spokesman said.

"An attempted coup d'etat has been stopped by the defence and security forces," said General Sylvain Ekenge in a message broadcast on national television.

He said that the attempt included "foreigners and Congolese" but that none of them "including their leader, could any longer cause harm".

Shots were also heard near the Palais de la Nation at the time of the coup attempt, according to a number of sources.

Ekenge did not give any more details on the coup attempt. AFP also contacted official sources but so far has not received a reply.

"I am shocked by the events this morning and very worried by the reports of American citizens allegedly being involved," Lucy Tamlyn, the US ambassador to the DRC, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

"Rest assured that we are cooperating with authorities in DRC to the fullest extent possible, as they investigate these criminal acts and hold accountable any American citizen involved."

There was "an armed attack" on Sunday morning at the residence of the economy minister, Japan's ambassador to Kinshasa, Hidetoshi Ogawa wrote on X.

Kamerhe "was not harmed... (but) two policemen and an assailant were killed according to sources", he added.

It is not known exactly how many people were killed during the coup attempt, or how many arrests have been made.

France's ambassador reported automatic weapon fire in the area, urging nationals to avoid it.

During the day, certain streets near the Palais de la Nation remained closed to traffic, but the situation appeared calm, AFP journalists reported.

"I'm a little afraid to move around like that in Gombe, there aren't many people... But I have to sell my goods," bread-seller Jean-Mbuta said.

Taxi driver Papa Fely said he is "not afraid" but hit out at those who think they can solve their problems by "taking up arms".

"A serious and in-depth enquiry is needed to shed light on this serious incident," citizen movement Lucha (a french acronym for fight for change) said in a press release.

A number of people were also injured in Brazzaville, when a shell from Kinshasa fell into a neighbourhood in the capital of the Republic of Congo, which sits just across the Congo river from the DRC.

"A few people have been lightly injured, one of whom has been transported to the army hospital of Brazzaville for treatment by the health service," government spokesperson and Minister of Communication and Media Thierry Moungalla said in a statement.

Reports began to circulate on social media in the early morning of an attack on Kamerhe's home by armed men, some of whom then went to the Palais de la Nation.

Videos on social media showed men in fatigues at the Palais de la Nation, brandishing flags of Zaire, the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was overthrown in 1997.

"The time has arrived, long live Zaire, long live the children of Mobutu", a man who appeared to be the head of the group said in Lingala, a language spoken in parts of the DRC.

"Felix has fallen... we are victorious," he added.

The man, who was allegedly killed by security forces, is said to be a former member of the military and part of the Congolese diaspora who lives in the United States, although this has not been confirmed.

AFP was also unable to verify the videos.

Several heavily armed military vehicles drove from the Palais de la Nation towards a large intersection, also in Gombe, AFP witnessed.

Construction blocks obstructed the road leading to the Palais de la Nation, while soldiers on foot blocked access to a boulevard near Tshisekedi's offices.

Tshisekedi was re-elected at the end of December when he received more than 70 percent of votes in the first round.

The parties backing him won around 90 percent of seats in the parliamentary elections held the same day.

But he is yet to form a government some five months after the elections.

Kamerhe was named on April 23 as a candidate for president of the National Assembly, the DRC's main legislative body.

The Congolese Republican Guard and police block a road around the area of an attempted coup in Kinshasa
The Congolese Republican Guard and police block a road around the area of an attempted coup in Kinshasa AFP