| 20 kidnapped in eastern DRC ‘since the weekend‘

At least 20 civilians have been kidnapped since the weekend in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a stronghold of multiple armed groups, officials said on Wednesday.

The kidnappings are understood to have begun on Friday, some 75km north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

“They have been taken between last weekend and today in different locations,” said Jason Ntawiha, an official in the town of Rutshuru.

“The kidnappers are demanding ransoms to free their hostages. Families have begun to organise themselves.

“We are putting strategies in place to prevent these criminals from doing their dirty work.”

A local civil society group has called for a peaceful march on Thursday to protest against the kidnappings.

Armed groups, which claim to defend Congolese communities, are fighting for control of territorial and natural resources in North Kivu, which has seen a string of deadly clashes in recent months.

Eastern DRC has been wracked by violence since the mid-1990s.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia – created by Muslim radicals to oppose the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni – is one of a number of armed groups fighting over the region‘s rich mineral resources.

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