KINSHASA, DR Congo, Apr 24 – Three members of the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo were kidnapped Thursday in the eastern North Kivu province, a UN source said.
“Three members of MONUSCO (the 20,000-strong UN peacekeeping force)… have been kidnapped in Kibumba”, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the provincial capital Goma, the source told AFP.
Two of those seized were Congolese members of a demining team and the other was part of the international UN team, the source added.
A Congolese army officer said a UN vehicle had been recovered near the presumed site of their abduction.
“The motor was turning and the car was empty,” he added.
According to the UN source, the circumstances around the abduction were unclear. They were seized at around 5:30 pm (1530 GMT), but no details were given on who had abducted the trio or where they had been taken.
The incident came as UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous was in DR Congo seeking to iron out differences between the UN mission and the government in Kinshasa.
The UN and the Congolese military were planning a joint offensive against a rebel group at the start of the year, but DR Congo later declared it would fight alone.
DR Congo’s armed forces say they also face incursions onto their territory by Rwandan troops, with one Congolese soldier wounded on Wednesday in an exchange of fire close to the border.
“We have been informed of the infiltration of hundreds of Rwandan troops,” confirmed Julien Paluku, governor of North Kivu province.
Rwandan authorities refused to comment on the claims when contacted by AFP.
DR Congo, a vast central African country, has been struggling through a political crisis since President Joseph Kabila’s 2011 re-election, which was marred by major voting irregularities.
The UN on Sunday called on the government to respect its citizens’ civil liberties as the political climate has turned tense ahead of key elections next year.