Security forces free Russian hostages in Sudan

Reports say two Russians kidnapped in Sudan’s Darfur in January have been freed by their captors.The two men were abducted by an unidentified group near the town of Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur state, on January 29.They two were employed by Russia’s UTair company and were in Sudan on a contract for the UN-AU mission in Darfur. The mission deployed to the western region in 2007 to protect civilians and secure aid to Darfur, which has been wracked by conflict since 2003 when ethnic insurgents rebelled against the government complaining of marginalisation.

“The kidnappers and their equipment are under our control,” Lieutenant General Taj al-Sir Othman, a senior officer in Sudan’s security agency, told reporters at Khartoum airport where the hostages, employees of airline UTair, were flown after their liberation. Russia’s Ambassador to Sudan, Mirgayas Shirinsky, said: “The release took place without violence or ransom payment.”

The Russian foreign ministry said the hostages were in good health and had been freed as a result of co-operation between the ministry, the Sudanese authorities, the United Nations Secretariat and UNAMID, the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.