Kinshasa: Two Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) police officers accused of rape were decapitated as violence flared between authorities and supporters of a traditional tribal chief killed in August, a governor’s aide said Friday.

Violent clashes between supporters of the slain chief and government forces that they blame for his death broke out in Kasai province in central DRC on Tuesday.

“On Tuesday locals decapitated two police officers accused of rape. About fifteen police and soldiers sent as backup were targeted by supporters of Kamwina Nsapu who attacked them with machetes during the night,” an aide to the Kasai governor told AFP.

The clashes happened in Kabeya-Lumbu, 30km from Tshikapa, the capital of Kasai.

For more than three months the regions around Kasai have been rocked by violence between followers of Nsapu and the Congolese security forces.

“I saw ten police officers and soldiers decapitated or killed with machetes at around 10am [0800 GMT], their bodies were in the hands of the attackers,” a Congolese journalist told AFP by telephone.

Kasai province interior minister Daniel Katombola said that the situation was now “under control” but refused to give an estimate of the death toll for an “operation still in progress”.

According to a source at Tshikapa airport, an aircraft twice brought reinforcements from Kinshasa.