KINSHASA — A rebel group released a Ukrainian pilot and his Congolese
colleague kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo more than three
weeks ago, the Red Cross said Saturday.
The Ukrainian, 56, and
his 34-year-old DR Congo co-pilot were freed on Friday, said the
International Committee of the Red Cross, which collected the men in the
Nord-Kivu province on the border with Rwanda and Uganda.
"are very, very tired by the conditions which they have been through", a
representative told AFP.
They had been held in the forest by Mai
Mai militants who had agreed to free them and two unidentified injured
people "without conditions", the official said.
The pilots were
captured on September 1 after their plane was attacked by Mai Mai and
Rwandan Hutu rebels shortly after landing at Kilambo, about 20
kilometres (12 miles) from the town of Walikale.
The identities of
the two injured people were not known and the Red Cross could not
confirm if they were passengers who were also kidnapped in the attack.
rebels had also targeted another plane during the attack but the crew
and three passengers working for an NGO fled into the jungle.
rebels were killed in subsequent fighting with government troops.
Kilambo airstrip, which has been closed since the incident, is used by
small planes to transport the mineral cassiterite from the nearby Bisie
mine to Goma, the capital of the turbulent Nord-Kivu region.
DR Congo government announced this month a crackdown on insurgents in
the resource-rich northeast of the country, which is a major source of
cassiterite and coltan, the minerals used in the West to build
telephones, computers and games consoles.