Members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) have kidnapped at least four people since last week in the Nyamilima area, about 100 km from Goma, the capital of North-Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Local media said the battered Rwandan rebels were resorting to abductions for ransoms of between 300 U. S. dollars and 1,000 dollars from the families of the victims.
A radio station in Goma on Sunday quoted local administrative and police sources as saying that the very last case of abductions happened on Friday, when a young man of 20 years old and a woman were abducted in a rice field during day time at Kinyana in Nyamilima. The two have not been found to date.
On Thursday, police in Nyamilima reported that a local primary school teacher was abducted from his school by two FDLR soldiers at mid-day.
The abductors left behind their telephone number at the school for use by the family of the victim and later made a ransom demand of 1,200 dollars for his release.
One week ago, another man aged 70 was abducted at Kamusenga, an area close to Nyamilima. His family got him back after paying 300 dollars to the FDLR abductors.
The abductions have prompted actions by the United Nations peacekeepers in the DRC (MONUC) based in Nyamilima and the local authorities, but without concrete results by far.
The FDLR's new form of presence despite the mopping-up operation by the military has forced some people in Nyamilima to flee into the forest again.
Meanwhile, the FDLR appeared to have intensified its attacks inthe past week on villages in the eastern North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda.
The FDLR has been taking shelter in North Kivu after committing the 1994 Rwanda massacre. It suffered a heavy blow in the joint military operation between the DRC and Rwanda early in the year, but has managed to launch sporadic attacks in small groups on civilians ever since.
Last week, the Rwandan rebels who are allied with the local MaiMai militia attacked the Omate locality, more than 140 km from Goma, killing one person and looting a number of villages.
After repeated attacks by the FDLR in the past seven days, local authorities said up to 11 inflicted areas were rendered empty, adding to the number of internally displaced persons in North Kivu.
The administrator of Walikale territory, Dieudonne Tshishiku, told local radio that the current security situation in his area was precarious.
Commenting on the Omate attack, he noted, "Saturday at 5.00 a.m., the FDLR joined the Mai Mai in an attack on the Omate mining quarry. The number of the assailants was actually bigger than that of the FARDC being deployed on the ground. The FARDC controls only Ntoto. This is why they came from the forest to get supplies in almost all the villages. This is the case of Mutakatu, Luvungi and today, the Omate mining quarry."
"I can certainly tell you that between Ngora and Ntoto, there are 15 villages. And among these 15 villages, 11 of them have no inhabitants. All the people are currently putting up at the main town of this territory," he said.
Tshishiku has been in Goma since Friday, leading a delegation of the security council of Walikale territory to make a report of the situation in Walikale to the provincial authorities in North Kivu.