A kidnapped church deacon has been released in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following demonstrations in the village where he works as a hospital apprentice.

Godefroid Paluku was kidnapped on 18 November on the Kiwanja-Ishasha road in the Rutshuru territory of the eastern North Kivu province. He was on his way to buy medicines for the hospital in Nyamilima village.

The following morning, the inhabitants of Nyamilima took to the streets en masse, halting all the activities in town, to demand his immediate release. That afternoon, Paluku was found safe and sound. No ransom was paid.

Since early November, six others have been abducted and then freed – in exchange for ransoms of up to $1,500 – in the Groupement de Binza, a territorial division of Rutshuru Territory. The families of the abducted were each forced to sell all their possessions to achieve the sum.

With their demonstration, the people of Nyamilima wanted to not only secure the release of the deacon, but also to draw the attention of the authorities to the pattern, reported reported Fides.

Attacks including murder, looting, abduction and rape are carried out on an almost weekly basis in the volatile province of North Kivu.

Islamist militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), continue to wreak havoc against the mostly Christian population. There have been several raids by the Islamist group in North Kivu this month.

On 12 November, at least 12 people were kidnapped in Matukaka, 15km north-east of the city of Beni. Two of them managed to escape and said that the group that had kidnapped them was composed of at least 200 guerrillas.

The same day, ADF also attacked another village and military post of the Congolese armed forces. The following evening, another attack on a military post was carried out in the Eringeti area, 50km north of Beni. These attacks occurred just before a visit of a UN Security Council delegation to assess the situation in North Kivu.