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Mining Workers from France, Tanzania Kidnapped in Congo

  • Associated Press

FILE - An employee stands in an open pit at Banro's Twangiza mine in eastern Congo, Sept. 28, 2011. Five workers were kidnapped Wednesday from Banro Mining Corp.'s Namoya mine.

Five workers have been kidnapped from a gold mine in eastern Congo, including ones from France and Tanzania, and rebels are demanding $1 million in ransom, a local official said Thursday.

The Congolese, Tanzanian and French workers were abducted Wednesday from Banro Mining Corp.'s Namoya mine, said Kabambare administrator Balthazar Hemedi Kabemba. An investigation has been opened, but members of the rebel group Rahiya Mutomboki have left leaflets around the mines threatening its workers.

"These five workers, including one Frenchman and one Tanzanian, are still in the hands of their captors. Though the captors have not been identified, witnesses say they were armed with AK-47s," the official said.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed that a French national was kidnapped and said it was in contact with Congolese authorities to ensure the release of those captured.

The captors are in direct contact with the Canadian mining company, Kabemba said, and have asked for $1 million in ransom. They also are seeking a guarantee that the company will carry out basic contractual agreements to build infrastructure in the area, including schools, roads and a health center.

The rebel group has criticized the mining company for not giving access or jobs to young miners who had been working on the site before it took over.

Banro's Namoya mine manager Crispin Mwetwedu confirmed that the subsidiary of the Canadian company has received an anonymous call demanding a ransom.

The Rahiya Mutomboki rebel group last year attacked a convoy of vehicles belonging to the company, seizing trucks and demanding ransom for their Tanzanian and Kenyan drivers.

Congo is home to multiple militias vying for control of its mineral-rich land.

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