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Two aid workers freed in Darfur

KHARTOUM, Oct 18 – Two members of Irish aid agency GOAL kidnapped in Sudan’s conflict stricken Darfur region in July were freed early Sunday after more than 100 days in captivity, a Sudan minister told AFP.

"They are free, they are in good health," said state humanitarian affairs minister Abdel Baqi Gilani.

Irish national Sharon Commins and Ugandan Hilda Kawuki were kidnapped in the North Darfur town of Kutum on July 3. They were taken by a gang of armed men from a compound run by GOAL.

"No ransom was paid," Gilani stressed, adding that local tribal chiefs had pressured the kidnappers to free their hostages.

The two aid workers’ ordeal is the longest endured by foreign aid staff in Darfur since the conflict erupted in the western region in early 2003.

Until March, no aid worker had been held in Darfur for longer than 24 hours.

However, the International Criminal Court in March issued an arrest warrant against President Omar al-Beshir for alleged war crimes in Darfur, triggering a sharp downturn in Sudan’s relations with foreign relief organisations.


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