It is very quiet in Rumangabo and Goma- today has been declared as a day of reflection and prayer for peace in the North Kivu province. People are not going to work and are instead going to church.
The details are emerging from the aftermath of the arrests of the soldiers last week. As Pierre blogged on Sunday, one of our cars was attacked on the way back from Goma.
That very morning, soldiers from the same brigade stopped a car transporting two of our rangers from the Kibumba patrol post. The soldiers pulled the rangers out, took their weapons, and beat them with punches and kicks. The rangers were stripped naked and taken to the army base nearby where they were questioned by the Major in charge of the brigade. They were told that they would not be set free until the two soldiers who we had arrested were released.
I was informed of the situation at that point, so I immediately got in touch with the headquarters of the 8th Military Region (ie North Kivu) and demanded that our rangers be released. The General and Colonel in charge for this area were very co-operative and assured us that this was the work of rogue elements. They promised me that they would sort out the problem and initiate an internal inquiry.
By the next morning at 4AM, the rangers were finally released. Ranger Bagambe Safari and Ranger Safari Kimanuka had spent 18 hours locked in a cold, dark cell. They are now recovering from their ordeal.
We have now filed complaints at the military tribunal against the Major in question as well as the two soldiers we arrested. Specifically, there are three complaints: one with regards to the destruction of forest within the park, one about the damage done to our vehicle when it was shot at, and one in relation to the kidnapping of our rangers. We understand that the Congolese Army is under strain and on full alert in the midst of the current hostilities, but we cannot allow these actions to be ignored by the judicial system.
Ranger Bagambe Safari
Ranger Safari Kimanuka