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South Sudan group release UN hostages following brief capture

The UN staff were held hostage in a camp in eastern DR Congo [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2017

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A group of South Sudanese former rebels released 16 UN staff members on Tuesday, after holding them hostage for several hours in a camp in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sixteen UN staff were released by former rebels in South Sudan after being held hostage for several hours in a camp in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN official said.

The 16 staff worked for the UN mission, known as MONUSCO, but there were no details about their nationalities.

"We are pleased to confirm that all 16 MONUSCO staff, who were earlier being held in a camp for former combatants in Munigi, have been released," said a UN official.

"The camp is quiet and under full control of MONUSCO. All staff have returned safely to their homes," said the official.

The official added that there were no casualties from the incident and that the mission had opened an investigation.

About 530 former rebels from South Sudan are living in the Munigi camp, just outside of Goma, where they fled when fighting flared in the South Sudanese capital of Juba in July.

The combatants, who were disarmed when they entered the camp, have for months demanded to be relocated, but UN officials have been unable to find countries willing to take them in.

Rebel leader Riek Machar remains in South Africa and has been prevented from returning to South Sudan.

After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and 3.5 million people displaced.

Close to 80 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan since the conflict began, the UN said.

Last month, six aid workers were killed in an attack described as the deadliest incident targeting humanitarian organisations since the country's civil war began.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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