8 International Red Cross Workers Kidnapped in the Congo

Militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo kidnapped eight people working for the International Red Cross, including a Swiss national, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Monday.

The eight, who also include two drivers from Republic of Congo were seized last Thursday in the Sud-Kivu province of eastern DR Congo, a humanitarian source in the region told AFP.

Negotiations are underway but the ICRC does not know "the motivation" for the kidnapping, the Red Cross official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official had no knowledge of a ransom demand.

"The ICRC workers were intercepted on the way back from a routine mission by members of the Mai-Mai Yakutumba group," a humanitarian source based in the region said on condition of anonymity.

"They forced them to follow them until Kasakwa" about 155 miles south of the eastern city of Bukavu, the source added.

The Mai-Mai is a normally pro-government faction in eastern DR Congo where there has been frequent unrest in recent years. But it controls its own territory in Sud-Kivu.

Kasakwa is near Lake Tanganyika and the frontier with Tanzania, one of the most unstable zones in DR Congo because of the presence of armed groups like the Mai-Mai.

The Mai-Mai exact taxes and get revenues from mineral wealth in the semi-mountainous region.