(By Estera Popowska)
The United Nations has said three of staff peacekeeping mission staff were on Thursday kidnapped in Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The UN reportedly 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.
AFP reported that among the kidnapped UN workers, two were Congolese members of a demining team and the other was part of the international UN team. According to an AFP source, a Congolese army officer said a UN vehicle had been recovered near the presumed site of their abduction. “The motor was turning and the car was empty,” the Congolese army officer reportedly said.
However, it is still unclear the motive and the circumstances around the kidnapping. What is known is that the UN workers were kidnapped at around 5:30 pm (1530 GMT), but no details were given on who had abducted the trio or where they had been taken.
The UN and the Congolese military were reportedly planning a joint offensive against a rebel group at the start of the year, but DR Congo later declared it would fight alone.
DR Congo's armed forces say they also face incursions onto their territory by Rwandan troops, with one Congolese soldier wounded on Wednesday in an exchange of fire close to the border.
“We have been informed of the infiltration of hundreds of Rwandan troops,” confirmed Julien Paluku, governor of North Kivu province.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been struggling through a political crisis since President Joseph Kabila's 2011 re-election, which was marred by major voting irregularities (AFP)