June 27, 2006

Congo militia free two Nepalese UN peacekeepers

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congolese militia fighters on Tuesday
released two of seven Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers they have been
holding hostage in the violent east of the country for over a
month, U.N. officials said.

"Two of our men have been released. They were freed early
this morning and have come back unharmed," a U.N. military
source told Reuters.

A separate U.N. source and a Western diplomat confirmed the

"They were released after Lendu members of parliament
became involved," said another U.N. source, who added that the
released men were in good health. "They (the MPs) made it clear
(to the militia) that it would be the Lendu community that
would lose out if this continued."

The U.N. earlier this month sent in hostage negotiators to
join local community chiefs in trying to secure the release of
the soldiers, part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo --
the largest in the world.

Militia fighters seized the soldiers on May 28 in the Ituri

A militia loyal to a local warlord on Monday threatened to
order their execution them after clashes last week. But U.N.
sources questioned whether the group of gunmen holding the
troops would follow the order.