Dozens of children kidnapped in DRC by rebels

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on Monday urged the immediate release of 90 children kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by rebels from Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

“Unicef demands the unconditional release of the abducted children,” said Julien Harneis, Unicef’s chief of field operations in the eastern DRC.

The fund cited local authorities as saying the children were snatched from their schools on September 17 in simultaneous attacks on the eastern villages of Kiliwa, Duru and Nambia.

The children are presumed to have been taken to nearby LRA bases in the forest, it added.

“These children were taken from their schools; Unicef is very concerned that they will now be forced to fight or support fighting, putting their lives at risk,” Harneis said.

A village chief and two Italian missionaries were also abducted in the LRA attacks, during which at least three civilians were killed, health centres were looted and houses burnt.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the two-decade-old civil war between the LRA and the Ugandan government.

Fighting officially ended in 2006 when a ceasefire was agreed, but LRA rebels have in part regrouped across the border in the DRC during the agreement’s much-delayed implementation.—AFP

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