Vienna - UN peacekeepers have freed a German and an Austrian man taken hostage on January 5 by rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Austria's foreign ministry said.

The two tourists were stopped by armed members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group shortly after crossing over from Uganda into the Rutshuru area by jeep.

The German managed to alert the German embassy and UN peacekeepers secured their release without a shot being fired, Austrian daily Kronen-Zeitung reported.

The rebels kept however $4 000 (about R35 000) in cash belonging to the men as well their credit cards, identity documents, laptops and their vehicle.

The FDLR, some of whose members are implicated in the 1994

Rwandan genocide, and fellow rebel group M23 are accused of serious abuses in the mineral-rich North Kivu province of eastern DRC. - Sapa-AFP