Three Red Cross staff members have been kidnapped in eastern Congo in an attack blamed by a rights group on Rwandan rebels.
The abductions were confirmed on Tuesday in a tweet from Dominik Stillhart, the Red Cross’s director of operations, who added: “We’re doing everything we can to bring them back home safely.”
The Congo-based Centre of Studies for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights said the three were drivers from Goma in the east of the country. Their vehicles were abandoned at the site of the kidnappings, it said.
It said the culprits were believed to be members of the Rwandan rebel group, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which consists of former soldiers and Hutu militiamen behind Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
The rebel group, which has waged wars against other armed groups and the government, is thought to be at the heart of instability in the region. Members say they want to return to Rwanda but the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission has said the group’s goal is to overthrow the Rwandan government.
There have been a series of abductions targeting aid workers in the vast central African country. The United Nations said in January a spike in kidnappings and insecurity had made it difficult to provide humanitarian aid.
Resource-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered from instability since millions were killed in regional wars in 1996 and 2003, mostly from hunger and disease, and armed groups have continued to remain in the area.