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Last hostages free in long-running DR Congo mediation drama

BUNIA, DR CONGO (AFP) – The last four members of a team that went to northeast DR Congo to mediate with an armed group who then took them hostage are now free, their spokesman said Tuesday.

The eight-member team had travelled to Ituri province in mid-February with the government’s blessing, seeking to persuade an armed group called CODECO to end a bloody campaign of ethnic violence.

But the mediators – who included three former warlords – were themselves seized by CODECO, who accused the army of using the reconciliation trip as a cover to shell their positions.

One hostage was released on March 21 and three others, including the team’s driver, on April 4.

A spokesman for the mediators Pitchout Mbodina Iribi said “all the remaining members of the delegation have been released”.