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South Sudan ex-rebels release UN hostages in DR Congo

Soldiers from the United Nations Stabilisation Mission for the Congo are seen in an abandoned quarry in Munigi in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2013 © AFP/File / PHIL MOORE

United Nations, United States, Apr 18 – South Sudanese former rebels on Tuesday released 16 UN staff after holding them hostage for several hours in a camp in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN official said.

About 530 former rebels from South Sudan are living in the Munigi camp, just outside of Goma, where they fled when fighting flared in the South Sudanese capital of Juba in July.

“We are pleased to confirm that all 16 MONUSCO staff, who were earlier being held in a camp for former combatants in Munigi, have been released,” said a UN official.

The 16 staff worked for the UN mission, known as MONUSCO, but there were no details about their nationalities.

“The camp is quiet and under full control of MONUSCO. All staff have returned safely to their homes,” said the official.

The official added that there were no casualties from the incident and that the mission had opened an investigation.

The combatants, who were disarmed when they entered the camp, have for months demanded to be relocated, but UN officials have been unable to find countries willing to take them in.

Rebel leader Riek Machar remains in South Africa and has been prevented from returning to South Sudan.

After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and 3.5 million people displaced.

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