14 aid workers kidnapped in eastern DR Congo: employer

A girl carries a load of bananas on November 3, 2013 in Rutshuru (AFP Photo/Junior D. Kannah)

Goma (DR Congo) (AFP) - Fourteen aid workers were kidnapped Sunday in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, their employer said.

"Twelve researchers and two drivers returning from a fact-finding mission on the nutritional situation" in the Rutshuru area were kidnapped in the town of Katwiguru, the head of the Rural Development Centre, Paul Muhasa, told AFP.

The town is around 120 kilometres (75 miles) northeast of Goma, the North Kivu capital and the region's main city.

"The identity of the assailants is not yet known," Muhasa said by telephone from Goma.

The development agency trains farmers in a partnership with the UN World Food Programme in Rutshuru.

Speaking by telephone from Rutshuru, deputy administrator Liberata Burotwa said she suspected rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda of being behind the abduction.

The Rwandan Hutu rebels, some of whom are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, are regularly accused of serious crimes against civilians in eastern DR Congo.

On Monday, several eastern towns were paralysed by a stay-at-home protest to pressure the government to act following a stabbing attack by Rwandan rebels that left three seriously injured.