Rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) are believed to have kidnapped six Tanzanian Muslim imams and their driver in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The abduction by suspected militants linked to the group occurred between the villages of Katwiguru and Rutshuru, after the imams preached in parts of North Kivu.
The kidnappers contacted the Islamic community in Goma, eastern Congo, and asked for a $40,000 (£25,6090) ransom for the hostages to be released, Al-Hadji Hashim Musa, head of North Kivu Islamic community, told Anadolu Agency. "We have informed government security agencies of the abductions," he said.
North Kivu province Governor Julien Paluku told AFP: "We have referred the case to our foreign affairs mission so that it can alert its Tanzanian counterparts."
In April 2014, members of the FDLR kidnapped three UN private agents who worked for UN anti-mine service Unmas. The abduction took place as tensions between Congo and Rwanda were running high after rumours spread that some Rwandan troops had got into North Kivu.
IBTimes UK contacted Paluku's office and the Congo embassy in London and is awaiting a response.
Members of the FDLR militant group, mainly composed by Hutu, include some Interahamwe, which translates from Kinyarwanda as "those who stand together". The Interahamwe is a Hutu paramilitary organisation, which was behind the Rwanda genocide, in which more than 800,000 people – mainly Tutsi and moderate Hutu – were killed by Hutu extremists in 1994. During the massacres, the Interahamwe received large support by the Congolese government of Joseph Kabila.
Following the end of the genocide, Hutu extremists fled to Congo where they formed the FDLR in 2000. The group was used by Kabila to fight the Rwandan Patriotic Army and other foreign troops in the country during the Second Congo War, erupted in 1998 . Following the end of what has been dubbed the deadliest conflict in Africa in 2003, FDLR continued to carry out attacks against Tutsi in Congo and along the border with Rwanda. The group is allegedly responsible for several terror attacks that killed dozens of people in eastern Congo.