BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Militia fighters have released a government minister seized more than two weeks ago in Central African Republic amid a spate of kidnappings in the highly volatile country, officials and relatives said Wednesday.
Armel Mingatoloum Sayo, who serves as minister of sports and youth, was abducted Jan. 25 from his car in the capital of Bangui while returning home from church.
His abduction came amid a spate of other kidnappings, including a U.N. employee and a French aid worker, both of whom were later released as well.
The circumstances of Sayo's release overnight were not immediately clear Wednesday. He was believed to have been taken by Christian militia fighters from a highly disparate group known as the anti-Balaka. While some elements were linked to his capture, others took part in negotiating his release.
The minister was brought to a negotiator's home just before midnight in the capital, said Sebastien Wenezoui, one of the militia leaders who took part in the mediation efforts. The minister was then taken to his own home.
Central African Republic exploded into sectarian violence in December 2013 after the Christian militia fighters attempted to overthrew a government led by Muslim rebels from the country's north.
A transitional government put in place about a year ago is supposed to be organizing elections later this year, but instability and violence threatens to derail that goal.