The Latest: 5 Chinese Nationals Kidnapped in Congo’s eastern city of Beni

Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo said they were trying to secure the release of five Chinese nationals kidnapped along with six Congolese nationals by unknown assailants in the eastern city of…

The Latest: 5 Chinese Nationals Kidnapped in Congo's eastern city of Beni

Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo said they were trying to secure the release of five Chinese nationals kidnapped along with six Congolese nationals by unknown assailants in the eastern city of Beni on Wednesday.

The armed robbery and hostage taking in Beni, 250 miles from the capital Kinshasa, occurred after a group of assailants who attacked the convoy on the outskirts of the city on Monday included two female suicide bombers. All five Chinese nationals are working for Belgian company URS, Congo’s defense minister, Jose Maria Aranaz said on Wednesday.

Security forces in Beni have, for over a year, been battling Islamist militants based in its hills and forests who rely on car bombs and hit-and-run attacks. Following a New Year’s Day raid on Beni’s main hospital that killed 12 people, Congo accused Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group allied with al Qaeda, of being behind the attack.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for that attack, as well as an attack on two churches in Kinshasa in 2017 that killed at least 76 people.

Congo’s President Joseph Kabila said on Monday the police and armed forces had received “actionable information” about the group involved in the killings in Beni, but he made no further comment.

An official at URS, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to talk to media, said the company was aware of the kidnap of its employees but declined to comment further.

URS signed a contract to build the railway that carries copper from the Katanga province in southeastern DRC to the Atlantic port of Goma in eastern North Kivu. The company also provides development services in DRC, including to state mining giant Gecamines.

The company’s other projects include the $3.7 billion Longibilo iron ore mine in Congo’s central Kasai region, where one person was killed and others were seriously injured in an attack on the mine last year.

In July, security forces in Beni shot dead two men in Tshikapa village, some 50 km west of Beni, who were found in a car fitted with explosives. It was unclear whether they were one of the two people who attacked the transport convoy on Monday.

In a sign of the security challenges confronting eastern Congo, at least four people were killed and 10 others injured early on Tuesday when unknown assailants fired on civilians in Rubavu in the northern part of North Kivu province, the provincial government said.

The unexploded ordnance was left at the scene, while a burned vehicle remained nearby and the others were evacuated, provincial spokesman Agaret Chissenga said. The government is holding an investigation, he said.

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