China calls on its citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave three provinces in eastern Congo as violence escalated in…

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave three provinces in eastern Congo as violence escalated in the mineral-rich region.

A post from the Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa on WeChat online stated that a number of Chinese citizens have been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri provinces, where many anti-government rebel groups are present. .

It said Chinese residents in the three provinces must provide their personal data by Dec. 10 and make plans to leave for safer parts of Congo. Those in Bunia, Djogo, Beni, Rutshuru, Fizi, Uvira and Muyinga provinces should leave immediately, she said, adding that anyone who does not “will have to bear the consequences themselves”.

“We ask all Chinese citizens and companies with Chinese investment in Congo to pay close attention to local conditions, raise their awareness of safety and prepare for emergencies, and avoid non-essential overseas travel,” the embassy said.

No details of the incidents were given, although the embassy said last month that five Chinese nationals had been kidnapped from a mining operation in South Kivu, which borders Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.

It warned at the time that the security situation in the area was “extremely complex and bleak” and that there was little possibility of sending aid in the event of an attack or kidnapping.

No details were provided about the kidnappers, who worked or suspected of kidnapping them.

Several armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, better known by its French acronym FDLR, Mai Mai and the March 23 Movement, regularly compete for control of the natural resources in eastern Congo.

Despite the danger, Chinese companies have moved to the Congo and other unstable African countries in search of cobalt and other rare minerals and resources. Chinese workers have also been subjected to kidnappings and attacks in Pakistan and other countries experiencing active insurgencies.

Security was a major topic at a meeting Monday in Dakar, capital of Senegal, between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Congolese counterpart Christophe Lutendola, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Wang said that the Chinese government and the ruling Communist Party “attach great importance to the safety and security of Chinese enterprises and Chinese citizens abroad, and the Chinese side is deeply concerned about the recent serious crimes of kidnapping and killing its own citizens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Using the abbreviation Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Wang urged Congo to secure the release of the abductees and create a “safe and stable environment for bilateral cooperation.”

Xinhua quoted Lutendola as saying that Congo will take “strict measures” to investigate the crimes, free the hostages, severely punish the perpetrators, safeguard national security and restore stability in the east of the country.

Earlier this week, Uganda said it launched joint air and artillery strikes with Congolese forces against the camps of the extremist Allied rebel group in eastern Congo.

The ADF was created in the early 1990s in Uganda and later expelled by the Ugandan army into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups can operate because the central government has limited control there.

At least four civilians were killed less than two weeks ago in the Ugandan capital when suicide bombers detonated explosives in two locations.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were carried out by Ugandans. The Ugandan authorities have blamed the Alliance of Democratic Forces, which has been allied with the Islamic State since 2019.

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