The kidnappers of a Catholic priest abducted in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo at the weekend are demanding $500,000 for his release, the church said on Tuesday. Father Celestin Ngango was taken away by armed men on Sunday shortly after he had celebrated Easter mass in his parish, in the diocesis of Goma in North Kivu province.
“His kidnappers have contacted the St. Paul of Karambi parish to demand US$500,000 (407,000 euros) in ransom for his release,” the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said, demanding he be set free immediately. North and South Kivu provinces are the theatre of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.
Three fathers of the Assumptionist Order, Jean-Pierre Ndulani, Edmond Kisughi and Anselme Wasukundi, were seized there in October 2012, and fellow priests Jean-Pierre Akilimali and Charles Kipasa were abducted in July last year. There has been no news of any of them since then, CENCO said.