SA peacekeepers released?

2010-04-26 13:51

The United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid) was “optimistic” that four South African peacekeepers taken hostage in Darfur, Sudan, would be released today.

Unamid spokesman Saiki Kemal said he had “reason to believe that this might be the case”.

“I saw media reports that they were released, but we are not going to confirm any release until our colleagues are with us,” he said.

The French news agency Agence-France Presse reported today that the peacekeepers’ captors told the agency they had been released.

“We released them half an hour ago,” Ibrahim al-Dukki, of the People’s Democratic Struggle Movement, reportedly told AFP.

“We dropped them off in the Niertiti area,” in west Darfur. He said no ransom had been paid.

“They are in good health,” he said.

Kemal was on his way to Nyala to confirm their release just after 2pm today.

The four unarmed police advisors’ last movement was reported at 4pm on April 11 when they left Nyala in South Darfur on a seven-kilometre journey back to their private quarters, Unamid said at the time.

On April 16, it was reported that the four were in good health and authorities were confident that they would be released.

AFP reported that Jibril Bukhari Abbas, the head of a 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.

The group told the agency it wanted one billion Sudanese pounds (US400,000) but that this was not “most important”.

“We want to show the international community that security conditions in Darfur do not allow for elections.”

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