Banro Trucks Targeted in Attack, Kidnappings in Eastern Congo

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Thirteen drivers were kidnapped and six trucks burned in an attack on a convoy delivering fuel and mining equipment to a Banro Corp. gold project in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bandits attacked the convoy of 18 vehicles on Sept. 13 at a road block in the village of Kilembwe, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Toronto-based Banro’s Namoya gold project, said Franco Chobohwa, managing director of the trucking company Simba Logistics DRC, a Banro sub-contractor.

More than 60 armed groups operate in eastern Congo. It’s the first time a Banro convoy has been attacked since the company began mining there in 2004, Banro spokesman Desire Sangara said by phone from Kinshasa, the capital. Banro operates the Twangiza and Namoya gold mines in eastern Congo and plans to develop two other projects at Lugushwa and Kamituga.

The thirteen drivers, all Tanzanian and Kenyan nationals, were freed Sept. 15 in an offensive by the Congolese army.

“We thank the authorities for the help they gave us to safely find the drivers and we hope that can find some solution to better secure the route,” Sangara said.

The vehicles were empty, returning to Tanzania from Namoya, having already delivered their cargo. At least 23 other Congolese drivers were freed immediately, with the group only targeting foreign nationals. The bandits had requested $4,000 per driver in ransom before the Congolese army intervened, Chobohwa said by phone from the regional capital, Bukavu.

Simba Logistics’ trucks started transiting the route again Sunday, Chobohwa said.

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