Kidnappers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have freed a priest in exchange for a ransom but three other people abducted in the troubled region have been killed, sources said Friday.
Father Celestin Ngango was taken away by armed men on Sunday shortly after he had celebrated Easter mass in his parish, in the dioceses of Goma in North Kivu province.
His abductors demanded $500,000 (407,000 euros), the Catholic Church said on Tuesday.
“We have just secured the release of Father Ngango after long negotiations with the kidnappers,” Father Louis de Gonzague Nzabanita, the vicar general (deputy to the bishop) of Goma dioceses, told AFP on Friday.
“We paid a ransom, which led to the release of our brother,” he said, giving no details as to the amount.
Ngango is one of 10 people to have been kidnapped in North Kivu’s Rutshuru administrative district in less than a week, according to a local campaign group, the Study Centre for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights, known by its acronym in French as CEPADHO.
Of these, three were “executed by their kidnappers on Monday after the ransom was not paid,” it said.
One person was freed while the five others, all farmers, who were kidnapped while working in their fields, are still missing.
North and South Kivu provinces are the theatre of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.
Three priests of the Assumptionist Order, Jean-Pierre Ndulani, Edmond Kisughi and Anselme Wasukundi, were seized in October 2012, and fellow priests Jean-Pierre Akilimali and Charles Kipasa were abducted in July last year.