Congolese citizens have moved to sue a Montreal-based mining company, alleging it played a role in a massacre in their country six years ago.

According to a motion filed in Quebec Superior Court in Montreal on Monday, relatives of victims are seeking unspecified damages against Anvil Mining Limited.


Kilwa, the scene of an uprising in which Montreal mining company Anvil is alleged to have played a role, is a port town in Congo's southeast. ((Google Maps))

The lawsuit claims Anvil was trying to protect its copper mine investment when it allegedly provided logistical support – including planes, trucks and drivers – to help Congolese military quash a 2004 rebel uprising in the port city of Kilwa.

More than 70 people died in the ensuing incident, the lawsuit states.

This civil action follows a military trial in Congo in 2007, where nine soldiers and three former employees of Anvil were acquitted of charges.

Victims' relatives say they have no choice but to seek justice in Canadian courts, as they have nowhere else to turn. They also point out that Anvil has one of its main offices in Montreal.

"Companies that choose to operate in areas of widespread violence must be vigilant," said Seema Joshi, a spokesperson for Global Witness, a human rights coalition working on the lawsuit.

"They must take extra steps to insure they are not involved in the commission of serious human rights violations."

According to Anvil's website, it has been in copper production in Congo since 2002. The company claims three main offices — in Australia, in Montreal and in Congo.

A spokesman for Anvil says the military tribunal cleared it of any wrongdoing, and the company has no more comment.

With files from The Canadian Press