DEMOCRATIC Republic of Congo (DRC) soldiers on Thursday abducted 123 Zambian fishermen at an area called Mulilo in Mpulungu and demanded a ransom of K7,000 from the Zambian authorities for the release of the Zambians.
Northen Province Minister Freedom Sikazwe confirmed to the Sunday Nation that the 123 fishermen were abducted on Thursday night while they were fishing on Lake Tanganyika in Mpulungu.
He said the Congolese soldiers claimed that the Zambian fishermen had strayed into the Congolese waters and that was the reason why they captured them and took them to a place only known as Nsumbu.
Mr Sikazwe said the Zambian Government sent a delegation of the joint operation committee to negotiate for the release of the Zambian fishermen but that the Congolese soldiers demanded a ransom of K7, 000 before they could be released.
He said the joint operations committee managed to negotiate a reduction of the ransom money and the amount was eventually reduced to K2, 000 which was paid and the fishermen have since been released.
“I can confirm that about 123 Zambians who were on a boat on Lake Tanganyika were on the night of Thursday abducted by Congolese soldiers at a place called Mulilo near the Congolese boarder. We immediately dispatched a Joint Operations Committee to negotiate their release but the soldiers demanded a ransom of K7 000.
We managed to negotiate and the ransom was reduced to K2 000 and they have since been released,” Mr Sikazwe said.
He stated that Zambia had been having problems with the Congolese soldiers on Lake Tanganyika and that many Zambians had fallen victims to abductions.
Mr Sikazwe said Mpulungu which shares borders with Tanzania has been experiencing abductions by the Congolese nationals and that they had been demanding to be paid for their actions.
He said Zambia has had no problems with Tanzania and wondered why the Congolese soldiers had remained uncooperative.
Mr Sikazwe said it was difficult for citizens to mark their exact bearing on the waters for them to know they had crossed territorial boundaries and appealed to the authorities in DRC not to be too hard on other nationals on the lake.