Two Congolese workers for Canadian gold miner Banro kidnapped last month in eastern DR Congo have been freed but a South African and Zimbabwean remain captive, the army said on Tuesday.

The four Banro workers were taken hostage after they were caught in an ambush by armed men on July 26 in Salamabila in Maniema province in DR Congo’s restive east.

New York and Toronto-listed Banro’s two gold mines in the DRC’s east have been troubled by illegal miners and armed groups operating in the region.

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“We have confirmed the liberation of two compatriots and we are waiting for the release of two other hostages,” said Captain Dieudonne Kasereka, an army spokesman for the region.

He did not give details of how they were released.

A local journalist in Salamabila told AFP by telephone the provincial governor had handed over to Banro the two Congolese who he said were taken by local Mai-Mai fighters.

A Banro source confirmed the release of the two Congolese hostages without giving further details.

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Banro operates two gold mines in the east of DR Congo, one in Twangiza in South Kivu province and the other in Namoya in Maniema state.

A Frenchman working for Banro was kidnapped in March 2017 but later freed.

The company stopped operations at a third mine in 2017 after a deadly attack.

The Mai-Mai are self-described “self-defence” groups who were armed during the Second Congo War (1998-2003) by the authorities in the distant capital Kinshasa to help combat invading Ugandans and Rwandans.

But many of the militiamen kept their weapons after the war, and fighting between the groups and the Congolese army continues both in North and South Kivu.


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