The family of an American caught up in an attempted coup in Congo claims their son was on vacation

The parents of a 21-year-old Utah man who was one of three Americans arrested following an ill-fated attack on the Congo’s presidential palace await word on their son’s fate from their home in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Tyler Thompson, 21, went to Africa in early April with his former high school football buddy, Marcel Malanga, for what his family thought was an all-expenses-paid vacation sponsored by Marcel’s father, Christian Malanga.

Congolese officials claim Christian Malanga, who declared himself the president of a shadow government in exile, was killed in a shootout on May 19 after directing a bold attack on the presidential palace in Kinshasa.

Although the Congolese government has not confirmed whether Thompson was detained or slain, a video circulating on social media shows him surrounded by Congolese soldiers, his hands gripped tightly and a fearful expression on his injured face. He and Marcel Malanga are dragged to their feet, and troops bind their hands behind their back.

The eccentric coup leader was fatally shot after resisting capture, according to the Congolese army. According to Congolese army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Sylvain Ekenge, six individuals were murdered and scores arrested as a result of that attack and another on the president’s close supporter, Vital Kamerhe.

Monica Shie, a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Congo, said Thursday that they had yet to secure access to the American inmates and had no idea when they would appear in court.Tyler’s parents are concerned that he may have died from disease (he caught malaria earlier in the trip) or from brain damage caused by one of the many strikes to his head witnessed in videos that spread on social media.They are racing to find a qualified lawyer in Congo and pressing US officials to consider him unlawfully held.Tyler’s stepfather, Jason Higbee, told The Associated Press at a family home in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan, “We need the people in the embassy to push harder.” Utah



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