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Red Cross Suspends Work in DR Congo Over Abduction of Three Employees

© AP Photo / Hussein MallaA convoy of Lebanese Red Cross ambulances
A convoy of Lebanese Red Cross ambulances - Sputnik International
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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday it was suspending a planned trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, following the abduction of three staff workers.

UN soldiers stand post with a machine gun on the back of a pick-up truck on October 23, 2014 in Beni - Sputnik International
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Three employees were seized Tuesday by armed men in the restive Nord-Kivu province. According to a local official, the kidnappers are thought to be members of a militant group called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.  

"All planned ICRC travel in Nord-Kivu has been suspended until further notice," the aid agency's official statement reads.

The Red Cross workers were part of a convoy headed to the village of Kyaghala, providing aid to people affected by violent conflicts in the area.

"We strongly condemn the kidnapping and are making every effort to reunite our colleagues with their families," said Alessandra Menegon, head of ICRC's delegation in DR Congo.

"We call on the assailants to free the hostages, safe and sound, immediately."

This is not the first incident of attacks on aid workers in an African country that has endured armed conflict within its borders for two decades.

UN soldiers stand post with a machine gun on the back of a pick-up truck on October 23, 2014 in Beni - Sputnik International
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Regional unrest is escalated by multiple armed groups and others committing ethnic-related violence, or due to land or resource disputes. Aid organizations note that it has become problematic to provide assistance in the region, and also globally, with ICRC staff regularly put at risk.

In early March unidentified kidnappers in Lubero, Nord-Kivu, captured and held three employees with Save the Children hostage for seven days.

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