KINSHASA (REUTERS) - The latest in a series of mystery monoliths to capture the imagination of science-fiction fans around the world met a fiery end in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday (Feb 17) when it was torched at a roundabout in the capital.
The 3.5m-tall metallic structure first appeared in Kinshasa's Bandal neighbourhood over the weekend on Sunday morning.
On Wednesday morning, a crowd of curious onlookers snapped selfies and debated its possible origins.
Videos posted on social media later in the day showed residents destroying the structure with sticks and then setting it on fire.
Similar alien-looking pillars were spotted in a Utah desert in the United States in November, and then in Romania and Turkey, sparking conspiracy theories and comparisons to the monoliths in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie, an alien monolith is a recurring symbol that appears to play a role in human evolution.
"We woke up and saw this metallic triangle," said Serge Ifulu, a local resident.
"We were surprised because it is a triangle that we often see in documentaries about freemasons or illuminati."
Similar mysteries have gone viral on Congolese social media before.
In August, an unidentified flying object was parachuted into dense jungle in the north of the country, briefly baffling local authorities.
Local authorities detained two people for questioning until a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet confirmed the device was an Internet balloon.
This time again, extraterrestrial intervention appeared unlikely: Residents said they saw people digging a hole at the roundabout on Saturday.
"On Sunday morning, I got a call when I was doing some sport to tell me they found something strange. I came and I said: 'This is cultural, it's extraordinary,'" said neighbourhood mayor Thierry Gaibene.