India seeks Congo help to rescue abducted pilot (Second Lead)

July 27th, 2010 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) The Indian Embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in contact with the central African nation’s government to secure the release of an Indian pilot taken hostage by rebels.
Syed Mazher, who was serving as a co-pilot with a private airline, was taken hostage by Rwandan rebels after they attacked an airplane at a airstrip in Kitambe, about 25 km north of Walikale in the North Kivu province in Congo.

“Our Mission in Kinshasa is in continuous contact with the concerned DRC authorities to secure the safe release of Syed Mazher. The DRC authorities have assured us that they are taking necessary steps for this purpose,” said an external affairs ministry statement

Congolese Army General Baigwa Dieudonne Amuli has blamed Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels for the attack, sources said.

According to Russian media reports, the Russian pilot of the plane managed to escape the rebels, by hiding in the plane.

The Russian managed to start the plane and escape to Goma, the nearest city. A Congolese citizen, who was aboard the plane, was injured during the attack.

“We will pursue with our efforts for the safe return of Syed Mazher,” added the MEA release.

India has good relations with the DRC government. President Joseph Kabila visited India in 2008 for the India-Africa Forum Summit.

During the visit of DRC Foreign Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba in October 2009, India had extended lines of credit worth $263 million.

As per ministry records, the DRC has the highest concentration of persons of Indian origin in central Africa. Besides, there is a 5,000-strong Indian contingent of United Nations peacekeepers who have been carrying out humanitarian work in the country.

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