Bunia, DR Congo | AFP | At least 10 people, but possibly as many as 40, have been kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo by suspected members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), local sources said Wednesday.
“We condemn the kidnapping of 10 people from the village of Kunu (in the northeast) by gunmen identified as LRA rebels,” a local official, Dungu Christophe Ikando, told AFP.
But the UN radio station in DR Congo reported that “at least 40 people had been kidnapped”, including two members of a commission charged with organising elections in the country.
“Two of our agents who were on their way back from a voter registration centre were ambushed by armed men,” said Etienne Akangiabe, an executive secretary with the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).
“One of them managed to escape, but we still have no news of the other”.
For three decades, the LRA — which has its origins in 1980s Uganda — has cut a swathe of murder, rape and abduction across central Africa, preying on civilians in Uganda, DR Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The UN estimates the LRA has slaughtered more than 100,000 people and abducted 60,000 children since it was established by the self-styled mystic and prophet Joseph Kony in northern Uganda in 1987.
In May, Ugandan and American troops announced they were abandoning their “capture or kill” mission for Kony, who was convicted in 2005 of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Political tension has been rising in DR Congo as the pressure mounts on President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate expired on December 20 last year, to organise elections — which under an agreement were to be held by the end of 2017.
On July 7, however, the electoral commission said it would not be possible to organise elections in the vast and troubled country by year’s end.