Banro gold mine trucks attacked in eastern Congo, two dead: army

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Militiamen in eastern Congo attacked trucks belonging to Banro Corp’s Namoya gold mine, killing two people and kidnapping four others, the army said on Saturday, in at least the third attack on mine personnel since last year.

The attack was carried out by militiamen from the group Mai Mai Malaika on Thursday in the Tubangoyi forest about 35 km (22 miles) from the mine in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Maniema province, local army spokesman Dieudonne Kasereka told Reuters.

“The two people killed are not Banro workers but passengers that the drivers picked up along the road. For the moment, the hostages have not been found but the Congolese army has launched operations to recover them,” Kasereka said.

He added that the hostages were two drivers and two soldiers who were protecting the trucks.

Banro did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Repeated attacks by the Mai Mai on Namoya and Banro’s Twangiza mine in neighbouring South Kivu province in the past two years threw the Canadian company’s survival into question late last year.

It was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange in January but is pursuing a recapitalisation plan to continue its operations.

Militias like the Mai Mai, who believe blessed water has magical properties like protecting fighters from bullets, have preyed on eastern Congo’s population and exploited mineral resources since the end in 2003 of a regional war that killed millions, most from hunger and disease.

Mai Mai Malaika is one of several groups allied with another militia in the zone called Mai Mai Yakutumba, which briefly threatened to capture the city of Uvira last September before being pushed back by Congolese and U.N. forces.

Reporting By Fiston Mahamba; Additional reporting by Susan Taylor in Toronto; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Andrew Bolton