Three members of the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo were kidnapped Thursday in North Kivu province in the country’s restive east, 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 engine was running and the car was empty,” he added.
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 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 United Nations on Sunday called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to respect its citizens’ civil liberties as the political climate has turned tense ahead of key elections next year.
According to the UN source, it was unclear where the three UN abductees had been taken after they were seized at around 5:30 pm (1530 GMT).
The incident adds to a tough week for the United Nations after at least 10 of its workers were killed in Somalia on Monday when a huge bomb placed by Al-Shabaab militants destroyed a bus in the northeastern town of Garowe.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack, branding the United Nations a “colonisation force in Somalia”.
Garowe, in the northeastern region of Somalia, is capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region, and the region had largely escaped the militant violence that plagues the rest of Somalia until recently..