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14 aid workers abducted in DR Congo

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A UN truck is seen in the MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo) base near the Kibunga village, North Kivu, on April 23, 2015. (AFP photo)

Fourteen people working for a national aid agency have been kidnapped in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Paul Muhasa, the head of the Rural Development Center, said on Sunday that 12 researchers and two drivers were kidnapped in Katwiguru town on the way back from a mission in the Rutshuru area.

The aid workers were conducting a fact-finding research on the nutritional situation in the region.

Muhasa also said that it was not yet clear who or what group was behind the abduction.

The Rural Development Center is involved in training local farmers in Rutshuru in cooperation with the UN World Food Program.

The development agency’s deputy administrator Liberata Burotwa said she assumed members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda could be responsible for the kidnapping.

Rwanda’s Hutu rebels are allegedly involved in crimes against people in eastern Congo. Many of the group’s members are accused of participating in Rwanda genocide in 1994.

In April, three people working for the UN peacekeeping mission were abducted in Kibumba town near DR Congo’s border with Rwanda.  The three were helping the UN to clear mines.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.

Rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda are also accused of carrying out attacks in DR Congo and committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape.

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