Rwandan rebels seize Indian pilot
Officials say cargo plane attacked and money taken away in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2010 04:08 GMT

Officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say that rebels from neighbouring Rwanda have taken an Indian pilot hostage.

The rebels attacked the pilot's aircraft in a tin mining zone in DRC's North Kivu province, army and mining officials said on Saturday.

Baigwa Dieudonne Amuli, a Congolese army official, said Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels were to blame for the abduction.

"The FDLR attacked a plane with the assistance of Mai Mai Sheka [militia]. We are pursuing the rebels in the bush. They took money and the co-pilot of the plane," Amuli said, adding that $60,000 in cash had been stolen.

The Goma Express, an airline company whose aircraft was attacked, said a Russian pilot escaped and flew the plane back to Goma, the provincial capital 150km away, with a wounded Congolese national on board.

Pedro Kadogi, the director of Goma Express, confirmed the incident and said the plane had been looted before it returned to Goma. He said food supplies, rather than money, had been on the plane.

"Everybody fled the scene into the bush and the co-pilot has been taken hostage," he said.

"After two hours the Russian pilot panicked and refused to wait and flew the plane back to Goma."

About 15 planes a day land at the airstrip to export tonnes of cassiterite from the Bisie mine in the deep jungle.

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