Two U.N. peacekeepers and four Chinese nationals have been kidnapped by unknown attackers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday.
The Chinese embassy and government “have been mobilized and have put efforts to reunite the hostages with their families,” said Le Drian.
Three other people — the civilian leader of a private military company and a U.N. military observer — also were kidnapped from a civilian vehicle in the border town of Minova, but they were released Monday, Le Drian said. The Chinese victims were at a mine.
The kidnapping is the latest in a string of attacks in Central Africa’s war-torn eastern Congo.
The U.N. mission known as MONUSCO, or the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said in a statement that the military working for an armed group called M23 detained an estimated 14 to 15 civilians on Friday while seeking protection.
The statement said that, in addition to the U.N. peacekeepers, at least one UNMISS civilian staff member was involved in the “the risky rescue mission.”
MONUSCO said it has “suspended its presence” in the town after Sunday’s attack but will continue to try to “de-escalate tensions” there, “wherever it might occur.”
One M23 rebel group surrendered to U.N. peacekeepers at the end of last year. But a breakaway faction formed last month in the same region where the M23 first broke away in 2012.
In another such case, gunmen from a rival armed group ambushed a Congolese army convoy in South Kivu province last month, killing one soldier. In 2013, armed groups killed more than 10 people in the province in an attack that made it the site of the deadliest conflict in the region in half a century.
The M23 battled Congolese government troops until it was pushed out of Goma in November 2014.