Three priests kidnapped in eastern DR Congo
Posted Tuesday, October 23 2012 at 01:16
Three Catholic priests in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been abducted by armed men believed to be members of a Ugandan rebel group, the Kinshasa bishopric and activists said Monday.
The priest of Notre-Dame des Pauvres parish, Anselme Wasukundi, and fathers Jean Ndulani and Edmond Kisughu were snatched at around 9:30 pm (2030 GMT) on Friday.
The Kinshasa bishopric said investigators are trying to identify the attackers and the place where the three priests, who have been at the Beni-Butembo diocese for less than three months, are being held.
The only information about the assailants is that they are about "a dozen armed men dressed in military fatigues," the Civil Society of North Kivu (SCNK) said in a statement.
The assailants "tied them up, one after another, demanding money from them, telling them that they will take their lives," said the NGO, adding that the armed men tried but failed to take a fourth priest.
Teddy Kataliko, president of the SCNK, said that a hunt is ongoing for the armed men.
It is believed that they belong to the DR Congo-based ADF-Nalu (Allied Democratic Forces and the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda).
"It's the only movement that is dangerous and which has begun to carry out these kinds of kidnappings," he said.
"These kidnappings, it's a situation that has become almost regular," Kataliko said, noting that "most people are not freed and some are found dead."
"Others are taken hostage, maybe for forced labour... They may also be revenge attacks," he said.
The ADF is a group which was active mainly in the late 90s but has sporadically resurfaced and claims to fight for the rights of Uganda's Muslim minority.
About 50 kidnappings have already been carried out including that of a doctor more than a year ago, of whom there has been no news.
A Ugandan defence spokesman said he was unaware of the kidnapping but stressed that Kampala was actively engaged in efforts to stamp out the rebels.
"As far as Uganda and DR Congo meetings are concerned, ADF/Nalu have been on top of our agenda. We know them as a serious threat to the regional stability," Felix Kulayigye added.
"According to our own intelligence we are talking about upto 1500 rebels, of which 800 are armed," he said.