Relief as 21 truck drivers freed in DRC

TWENTY one families of Tanzanian truck drivers who were abducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a week ago may now breath with a sigh of relief following the captives release.

The government announced yesterday that the released drivers remain stranded in the vast country for their captors freed them on condition that they leave their cars, money and other belongings behind.

Measures taken by the government through the Embassy in DRC included requesting the Kinshasa government to assist the released drivers with security, Head of Communications in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Ms Mindi Kasiga, told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

She added, We have also emphasised the ongoing armed forces (FARDC) operations against Mai-Mai rebels to identify the presence of these drivers and theMs Kasiga (pictured) said the direct contact with the captives was made to know their status and level of security threat in the area.

Apart from fear of being hurt by the ongoing operations between FARDC and the Mai-Mai rebels, there is also the fear of these drivers being used as shield against attack from the government armed forces, she noted.

The spokesperson further said the Tanzanian Embassy in DRC was tracking the request for appointment to meet with the Minister for Defence and head of UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in DRC or MONUSCO to discuss the matter and engage their authority as soon as possible.

Mai-Mai rebel group, on June 29, this year, kidnapped 24 truck drivers in the DRC. The abduction occurred at Lulimba area, roughly 100 kilometres from Baraka town, South Kivu province.

The abducted drivers were heading to Canadian Banro Gold owned Namoya mine in Mainiema province. Of the 24 drivers, 21 were Tanzanians, working with Alistair Cargo Transport Company and Primefuels, while the other three were Kenyans.

According to the Embassy in DRC, Mai-Mai rebels attacked a FARDC soldiers escorted convoy of trucks, robbed the drivers all of their money, destroyed some trucks, pierced tires and broke mirrors.

This is not the first time Tanzanian drivers are getting troubles in DRC for similar incident happened last September when four trucks were confiscated and eight drivers abducted by the rebel group.

The incident occurred in Namoyo, South Kivu, where the rebels burnt four trucks belonging to Azim Dewjis Simba Logistics. Mai-Mai rebels, who spray themselves with magic water to protect themselves against bullets are essentially self-defence militias formed on an ad-hoc basis by local leaders who arm young men in villages, often along ethnic lines.

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