Kidnapped peacekeepers ‘in good health’

2010-04-17 08:59

Four South African peacekeepers from the joint UN-African Union mission who were kidnapped this week in the western Sudanese region of Darfur are “in good health,” UNAMID said.


UNAMID spokesperson Nouredine Mezni said: “We were able to talk to them this morning (Friday). They are in good health. We are doing our outmost to secure their release.


“The Sudanese authorities know the identity of the kidnappers but they want to make sure their release takes place in the best possible conditions.”


South African authorities said on Thursday they were “confident” the issue would be resolved soon.


The kidnap of the four UNAMID police – two men and two women – was confirmed on Wednesday. It is the largest single abduction of foreigners in the war-torn region.


In a statement to the official SUNA news agency, Jibril Bukhari Abbas, the head of Darfur group calling itself the People’s Democratic Struggle Movement said one of its members had carried out the kidnapping but without instructions from the group.


Bukhari said the abductor “was unaware of an agreement which was concluded between the government and the People’s Democratic Struggle Movement which has joined the peace march,” SUNA reported.


In a telephone call to AFP, Ibrahim al-Dukki claimed the kidnapping but said that Mohammed Abdallah, not Bukhari, was head of the movement, indicating there might be splinter groups.


“We want one billion Sudanese pounds ($400?000) but that is not the most important. We want to show the international community that security conditions in Darfur do not allow for elections,” Dukki said.


Sunday’s kidnapping came as Sudan was holding its first competitive elections in more than two decades. Election observers from the European Union had pulled out of war-torn Darfur, citing insecurity.


Darfur has been gripped by civil war since 2003. Over the past year, the region has seen a wave of kidnappings of humanitarian workers and expatriates in general.


Since it was first deployed in January 2008, UNAMID has also suffered a number of deadly attacks. – Sapa-AFP


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