16 UN workers held hostage in Congo released unharmed

16 UN workers held hostage in Congo released unharmedThe United Nations said late Tuesday that 16 staff members taken hostage by unarmed South Sudanese refugees at a U.N. camp in eastern Congo have been released unharmed.

This is reported by The Associated Press.

The U.N. peacekeeping department said in a statement released at U.N. headquarters in New York that "the camp is quiet and under full control" of peacekeepers at the Munigi base in North Kivu province.

The U.N. Mission in Congo said earlier that the South Sudanese refugees took 13 staff members hostage, demanding they be sent to another East African country to avoid their forced return to South Sudan. Negotiations had continued into the evening.

The U.N. peacekeeping department said later there were 16 hostages.

"All staff have returned safely to their homes," it said. "No casualties have been reported. The mission is investigating the incident."

A spokesman for the opposition SPLA-IO party said the hostages were taken as a protest. "They should be allowed to be registered as refugees or go to a third country," Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesman for the opposition told AP.

Daniel Ruiz, the head of the North Kivu U.N. bureau, said earlier that two of the hostages were expatriates and the South Sudanese refugees had demanded asylum in Uganda, Kenya or Ethiopia.

The refugees are among a group of 530 who had fled South Sudan last year and have been staying at the U.N. camp in Munigi, north of the provincial capital Goma.
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