3 Red Cross Hostages Freed In Republic Of Congo

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said no ransom was paid for the release of its three kidnapped workers. By Junior D.Kannah (AFP/File)

Kinshasa (AFP) - Three Red Cross workers kidnapped by armed men in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been released, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Saturday.

"We are relieved that their ordeal is over and that they are now back, safe and sound, with their families It's the end of their ordeal," said the head of the ICRC's delegation in DR Congo, Alessandra Menegon.

"However, we deeply regret that this abduction took place. These kind of acts put at risk the work of aid workers who are trying to help people who are suffering greatly from conflict," Menegon said in a statement.

An ICRC spokeswoman in eastern DR Congo told AFP that the three workers had returned to Goma city, the capital of North-Kivu province, on Saturday morning -- a day after their release.

"No ransom was paid by the ICRC," said the spokeswoman, Elisabeth Cloutier.

Contact was lost Tuesday with the three ICRC workers, who were part of a convoy heading to the town of Kyaghala where they were going to distribute aid to people affected by the conflict.

A local official has previously said the three workers were Congolese nationals.

On Wednesday, the ICRC announced it was suspending planned travel in the region.

Attacks against aid workers are regular occurences in the area, which has suffered chronic unrest for two decades.

The strife is fuelled by local armed groups and others committing ethnic-related violence, or over land or the region's mineral wealth.

In early March three Congolese workers for Save the Children were taken hostage for seven days by unidentified kidnappers in Lubero, in central North Kivu province.

Source: AFP
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