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Gunmen kidnapped a South African and one Zimbabwean worker at Banro Corp’s gold mine in the east Congolese province of Maniema on Sunday, an army spokesman said.

Dieudonne Kasereka, army spokesman for South Kivu province, gave no further details.

The Canadian mining firm’s interests in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have come under periodic attack by Mai Mai militiamen. Last year they attacked trucks belonging to its Namoya gold mine in Maniema.

Repeated attacks by the Mai Mai on Namoya and Banro’s Twangiza mine in neighbouring South Kivu province at one stage seemed to throw the company’s survival into question, although it has managed to keep running.

East Congolese militias such as the Mai Mai, who believe blessed water has magical properties like protecting fighters from bullets, have preyed on the population and exploited mineral resources since the end in 2003 of a regional war that killed millions, most from hunger and disease.

But only in the last three years have such armed groups shown an interest in taking hostages for ransom.

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