UN worker kidnapped in Central African Republic released
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The United Nations said a staff member with the world body’s peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic has been released after she was detained in the country’s capital Bangui earlier on Tuesday.
“A staff member was detained for some time this morning in Bangui,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. “She’s safely released and we’re obviously very pleased.”
The Kurdish woman was abducted by armed militia fighters near Bangui airport early Tuesday when they stopped a van that was driving UN staffers to work.
Her abduction comes only a day after another attack by the Christian anti-Balaka on two aid workers just north of the capital, including a 67-year-old French woman who remains missing but France’s foreign ministry has said the archbishop’s office in Bangui is in contact with her abductors.
Central African Republic, a long near-anarchic group, exploded into sectarian violence about a year ago following the violent reign of a Muslim rebel coalition later forced from power. The Christian anti-Balaka fighters who emerged to combat them also have been blamed for scores of attacks and human rights abuses.
Yet even amid violence that has left more than 5,000 people dead, attacks have rarely been directed at foreigners except for those with the French military and the other African armies taking part in the UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA.
The new rash of kidnappings by the anti-Balaka fighters comes after the Saturday arrest of their widely feared commander, Rodrigue Ngaibona, whose alias is Andilo.
The French woman, who was working for a Catholic medical organisation, was kidnapped along with a local co-worker when the fighters seized their vehicle full of medicine and medical kits, according to their driver Elkana Ndawatcha.
“Me, I was released after being stripped of everything I had, my telephone, my bank documents and money,” he said. “One of the kidnappers took my place in the vehicle.”
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)