2 January 2013

Sudan: Two Kidnapped Jordanian UN-Peacekeepers in Darfur Released

Photo: Shereen Zorba/UNAMID
A UN peacekeeper talks to locals in Darfur (file photo).

Khartoum — Two Jordanian peacekeepers who were abducted the 20th August 2012 in Kabkabiya in North Darfur were released in Zalingei in central Darfur on Tuesday.

According to the Jordan authorities, Sudan had informed them that the kidnapping was carried out by "a group of outlaws for financial and not ideological reasons. The kidnappers do not belong to any armed or organised gang". The Jordan authorities did not confirm having paid a ransom to end the long kidnapping.

Sergeant Hassan Mazawdeh and Corporal Qassem Sarhan were abducted after they went to the market in Kabkabiya for shopping. They did not return. Today, Wednesday 2 January 2013, they are on their way to the Jordanian mission in Sudan, the Public Security Department of Jordan announced.

According to UNAMID and the Sudanese government, the officers are in good condition. "The two officers will be sent to a field hospital for medical checkups then we will work on their safe return to Jordan". UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri confirmed that the two peacekeepers are safe.

The Jordanian government spokesperson would not elaborate on the circumstances that led to the release of the officers and whether a ransom had been paid. It is the second Jordanian peacekeepers were abducted. In August 2010 two Jordanian peacekeepers with UNAMID's police contingent, were abducted by gunmen as they were walking from their residence in Nyala to a transport pickup point.

Last May, unknown captors released a British employee of the UN's World Food Programme who had been held for nearly three months in Darfur.

In February, rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement freed five Turkish nationals they held captive for several months. That followed the release in December 2011 of Italian hostage Francesco Azzara, a humanitarian worker abducted for about four months. UNAMID blamed a "criminal element". That same year three Bulgarian helicopter pilots working under a UN contract were held for 145 days.

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