Relief for 27 researchers from Kahuzi-Biega National Park located west of Lake Kivu near Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
They were released on Friday and handed over to the DRC armed forces. They were kidnapped in early March by Rayi wa Muto mboki Kazimoto militiamen.
According to local sources, the militiamen agreed to release their hostages following a mediation delegation led by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“We left on the February 17 for biological inventories in the national park of kahuzi-Biega and more precisely in the lower part of the Lulingu area, and that is how we got kidnapped”, researcher, Seguin Chakiza said.
“We were arrested, tied up, robbed completely and it took us three weeks, we were held up in the forest but glory to God for our release”, researcher, Wabika Ndumbo Pazzo said.
Military sources confirmed the news, stressing they chose dialogue and negotiation. According to them their goal was to save the hostages.
The provincial government decided in the first place to do everything possible to end the insecurity, you will realize that the Armed Forces of the DRC are stationed in Shabunda, they ever ready to support or use forced when called upon but we are doing things gradually now that we have dealt with FIZI. The head of state is thinking of how this could be replicated in another territory specifically Uvira and ultimately disbanding all armed groups in the country”, Deputy Governor of South Kivu, Hillar Sounder Kasusa Kikobya said.
The park was established in 1970 and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. It covers a vast expanse of rainforest dominated by two inactive volcanoes, the Kahuzi- Biega located at an altitude of 2,100 and 2,400 m, the area is home to one of the last mountain gorillas.