Ransom demand for release of Catholic priest in DRC
By Linda Bordoni
A statement released on Tuesday by the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said that the kidnappers of Father Celestin Ngango had contacted St. Paul of Karambi parish demanding the equivalent of 500,000 US dollars in exchange for his freedom.
Father Ngango was forcefully made to get out of his car and led into the jungle by armed men on Sunday shortly after he had celebrated Easter Mass in his parish in the Diocese of Goma in North Kivu province.
Church officials have not yet revealed whether or not a ransom will be paid.
North and South Kivu provinces, where tension has been high for the past 23 years, has lately seen an eruption of violence among militia groups which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.
At the end of March ten people were killed in an attack in the North Kivu area perpetrated by an alliance of militias leading to a scaled- up army presence.
Another priest, Father Robert Masinda, was abducted in North Kivu in January this year together with five other men, all of whom were released two days later.
Three fathers of the Assumptionist Order, Jean-Pierre Ndulani, Edmond Kisughi and Anselme Wasukundi, were seized there in October 2012, and fellow priests Jean-Pierre Akilimali and Charles Kipasa were abducted in July last year.
CENCO has said there has been no news of any of them since then.