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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Foreign workers abducted in Congo
MLC rebels
Ugandan-backed rebels control the north east of the country
At least 20 foreign workers, many of them from Thailand, have been kidnapped in rebel-held north-east Democratic Republic of Congo.

About 18 Thai nationals and an unknown number of other foreigners were kidnapped recently by a tribal group known as the Mayi Mayi, a Thai diplomat in Kenya told the Reuters news agency.

Many of those abducted worked for a Thai timber company logging near the border with Uganda.

The workers were kidnapped in an area controlled by the Ugandan-backed Congolese Liberation Front, one of two main rebel groups that control almost half of the country.

Mayi Mayi

Congolese radio reported that the Mayi Mayi are calling for the withdrawal of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundian forces from the country.

The Mayi Mayi are made up of mostly young men from rural Congo who have traditionally fought for local autonomy.

They originally supported Rwandan-backed rebels to overthrow President Mobutu Sese Seko but then turned against his replacement, Laurent Kabila, as well as the foreign backed rebels who tried to overthrow Mr Kabila.

Aid workers in northern Congo say they believe the incident took place in the Beni region between Goma and Bunia.

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See also:

05 Jan 01 | Africa
Congo's forgotten war
16 Jan 01 | Africa
DR Congo's troubled history
18 Jan 01 | Business
Congo economy 'ravaged' by conflict
10 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
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