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DR Congo: UN peacekeepers rescue kidnapped police without firing a shot

2 February 2011 – United Nations peacekeepers in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have rescued six national police officers kidnapped by rebels without paying a ransom or firing a shot, relying on diplomacy and their superior numbers.

The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) early warning centre at the Ntoto military base in South Kivu province was initially informed of the abduction by the Mai Mai militia of the local national police chief late on Saturday.

“The blue helmets immediately swung into action and closed in on the house where they suspected the police chief was being held,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

“Not only was he in there, five of his colleagues were found in the same house under siege. The Indian troops used both diplomacy and their numerical strength to rescue them. No ransom was paid, and no gunshots were exchanged,” Mr. Haq told a news briefing today in New York.

In another development, UN troops prevented suspected members of the rebel Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) from making away with their loot after an attack on the South Kivu town of Mwenga early Tuesday morning. The town priest informed a MONUSCO official of the attack at about 1 a.m. when the attackers had entered three houses, looted household goods and forced five people, including a woman, to carry the goods on their head.

“But barely ten minutes after the MONUSCO troops were informed they went into action,” Mr. Haq said. “The suspected FDLR troops abandoned their hostages and their loot and fled into the nearby forest.”

Since 1999 and under various names, the peacekeeping mission – with over 19,000 uniformed personnel currently on the ground – has overseen the vast country’s emergence from years of civil war and factional chaos, culminating most notably in 2006 with the first democratic elections in over four decades. However, fighting has continued with various rebel groups in the east where the bulk of UN forces are deployed.

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