China says five of its citizens have been kidnapped from a mining operation in eastern Congo.
The Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa posted on the WeChat online message service that the five were abducted early Sunday from the site in South Kivu province that borders Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
It called on all Chinese citizens to leave South Kivu and the neighboring provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, saying the security situation in the area was “extremely complex and grim” and that there was little possibility of providing aid in the event of an attack or kidnapping.
No details were given about those kidnapped, who they worked for or who was suspected of taking them.
“All Chinese citizens and Chinese-invested businesses in Congo should pay close attention to local conditions, increase their safety awareness and emergency preparedness, and avoid unnecessary outside travel,” the embassy said.
On Saturday, a Congolese conservation park ranger was killed when 100 heavily armed men, presumed to be former members of the M23 rebel group, attacked a patrol post near the village of Bukima in North Kivu. Other rangers fled unharmed.
Several armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly vie for control of eastern Congo’s natural resources.
Despite the danger, Chinese businesses have moved into Congo and other unstable African states in a quest for rare minerals and other natural resources. Chinese workers have also been subject to kidnappings and attacks in Pakistan and other countries with active insurgencies.