28, May 2017
Militiamen have freed a French national and three Congolese who were kidnapped in March in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Interior Ministry says. They were among five workers, including a Tanzanian, who had been kidnapped from Banro, a Canadian gold mining corporation that runs two mines in DR Congo and is exploring for the mineral elsewhere in the vast, resource-rich country.
The Tanzanian had already been freed. The remaining four hostages were all freed on Saturday, the Congolese Interior Ministry said in a statement. French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated those involved in the release, “in particular Congo authorities for their mobilization and the effectiveness of their action,” according to a brief statement from his office. The French foreign ministry said it had no information on the identity of the attackers.
New York and Toronto-listed Banro’s four gold mines in eastern Congo have faced hazards both from illegal miners squatting on site and by armed groups that are a legacy of a regional conflict which officially ended in 2003. Armed robbers attacked Banro’s Twangiza gold mine in neighboring South Kivu province in February, killing three police officers.
Kidnappings are frequent in DR Congo’s east, which has suffered nearly two decades of brutal conflict, with neighboring states backing rebel groups in a civil war against Kinshasa’s authority, and roaming armed militia triggering the mass flight of terrorized civilians. The United Nations has 19,000 soldiers, police and military observers deployed in the DR Congo, its biggest and costliest peacekeeping mission, with an annual budget of $1.2 billion.