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Army frees four electoral agents, kills 34 militiamen

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KINSHASA, 2 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - Government troops have freed four electoral officials held hostage in eastern village of Burondo, in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN and electoral officials said on Wednesday.

The spokesman for the UN Mission in the DRC, Lt-Col Thierry Provendier, said the rescue raid was conducted on Monday night, during which the army killed 34 Mayi-Mayi militiamen, the captors.

The president of the Independent Electoral Commission, Apolinnaire Malumalu, said the militiamen did not maltreat the hostages.

One of the hostages, a woman, escaped with the help of locals before the army launched its rescue raid.

The four electoral officials were seized and taken to a forest on 23 October when Mayi-Mayi fighters attacked an electoral registration centre in Burondo village. The attackers stole a computer, a printer, a camera, a fingerprint device and an electric power generator all used to register voters.

"The electoral materials have not been recovered but this does not set back the electoral process because data is transmitted daily to another centre," Dieudonne Mirimo, the commission's rapporteur, said.

Nationwide, at least 19 million voters have been registered. The process is being undertaken in the provinces of Bandundu and Equator in readiness for the constitutional referendum due on 18 December.


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