A consignment of 1,500 Sudanese, Eritrean, Chinese and Sudanese men was attacked by armed gangs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, demanding an unspecified ransom for their release. The five abducted Chinese nationals, taken Sunday near Katanga, a copper and cobalt mining region, were freed on Tuesday after paying around $130,000 to the kidnappers, according to the BBC. One of the kidnapped Chinese workers was later found dead.
Frustrations surrounding Congolese authorities’ willingness to investigate the kidnapping appear to have caused the group to withdraw from the area. The Beijing news organization China Radio International cited a “source close to the Chinese victims” as saying that the group had stayed away in a “last-ditch effort to avoid the kidnappers arresting and executing them if they returned.”
The mining industry in Democratic Republic of Congo is largely unregulated, and armed gangs have taken advantage of this to abduct foreign workers. As of June, Congo has registered 129 kidnappings this year. But that number is likely a small part of the kidnapping trend overall, since many kidnappings occur with no ransom demand involved. The vast country, which has no apparent system of documenting kidnapping victims, does not recognize criminal cases related to robbery, so identifying kidnapped miners as robbery victims can be difficult, since they usually do not fit the traditional profile of a victim. The only foreign guest house in Katanga is a private residence which caters to South African miners.
In recent years, several other mining companies have closed amid extortion and kidnapping concerns. Other workers in the Congo remain afraid to travel outside of their camps by road, a staple in most mining operations. And a third of the 1.5 million miners operating in the country cannot cover the basic needs of their families. Many foreign firms have been deterred from mining in Congo as a result.
Read the full story at The Telegraph.
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