ROME — Three priests kidnapped Oct. 19 in eastern Congo have not been heard from, said a member of their Assumptionist order.

Assumptionist Father Bernard LeLeannec, the congregation's secretary-general, said the three were at taken at gunpoint from their home at Our Lady of the Poor Parish in the village of Mbau, in embattled North Kivu province. Father LeLeannec received his information from a fourth Assumptionist, who avoided being taken by refusing to leave his room when someone knocked at the door.

The escaped priest, identified only as Joseph, said two of his confreres were relaxing in the living room and one was on the balcony doing wash around 9 p.m., when the kidnapping occurred.

The statement from the Assumptionists said that, shortly after the kidnapping, witnesses saw members of the rebel Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces traveling in the direction of where their base is known to be.

For months, government soldiers have been stationed in Goma, capital of North Kivu province, where Mbau is located. The soldiers are battling the rebel group M23, which defected from the Congolese military. The violence had led more than 100,000 people to flee their homes since April.

The United Nations has said Rwandan defense officials are backing the rebel group, which has been accused of rape and the murder of civilians in its effort to control mineral-rich North Kivu province. Rwandan officials have denied allegations of assisting the rebels.