Russian air crew freed in Darfur

2010-08-31 12:22

  • Abducted
    This is a candid, compelling account of living under the shadow of child abduction. Now R122.00
    buy now

Khartoum - Three Russian helicopter crew members have been freed a day after they were abducted in Sudan's war-torn western region of Darfur, a Sudanese army spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"The three Russian pilots were freed last night (Monday)," following negotiations with the abductors, army spokesperson Sawarmi Khaled Saad said.

But state media said the trio was freed after clashes between security forces and the abductors.

"The specialised services in the South Darfur state succeeded in liberating the three Russian pilots who were abducted two days ago in Nyala after clashes with the abductors," the Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) reported.

SMC, which is close to Sudan's intelligence services, suggested there were casualties in the clashes saying "the toll (from the fighting) has not yet been announced".

The Russians, who worked for private aviation company Badr, were abducted on Sunday by gunmen in Nyala, capital of South Darfur.

The Kremlin special envoy on Sudan, Mikhail Margelov, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as identifying the three as the captain of a Mi-8 helicopter and two crew members.

"The helicopter was carrying food and other civilian supplies for the United Nations mission to Darfur," Margelov said.

Darfur has been gripped by civil war since 2003 that has left 300 000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced, according to the United Nations. Khartoum says 10 000 have been killed in the conflict.

Safe and free

Strife-torn Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings since March 2009, when the International Criminal Court indicted Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes there, with 23 foreigners seized.

With the release of the Russians, no foreigners remain in captivity.

On Monday, a US aid worker who had been held for more than 100 days was finally released by her abductors after negotiations with the authorities, Sudan foreign ministry spokesperson Moawiya Osman said, stressing however that no ransom had been paid.

Flavia Wagner, 35, who works for US aid group Samaritan's Purse was released after a 105-day ordeal, officials said.

Colleagues had seen her "and report that she is well. She said she is looking forward to being reunited with her family in the United States," Samaritan's Purse said in a statement on Monday.

"We thank God that Flavia is safe and free," said Franklin Graham, president of the American aid group. "We appreciate the help of the government of Sudan and the United States government."

Wagner - who was seized on May 18 along with two Sudanese colleagues who were freed within days - was the first Western woman to have been held alone in Darfur.

All foreigners kidnapped since March 2009 have since been freed unharmed.

In July, a Russian helicopter pilot was taken prisoner after landing in South Darfur to pick up a group of rebels and transport them to Chad for peace talks. He was freed four days later.

Read more on:    sudan  |  abductions  |  east africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24

  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.