21 August 2013

Sudan: East Darfur Ma'alia Abductees Released

Photo: Tim McKulka/UN Photo
(file photo)

Abu Karinka — The group of 42 members of the Ma'alia tribe kidnapped by a contingent of the Rizeigat 'Savannah' militia, have been released by their captors in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Commissioner of Abu Karinka locality, Osman Gissin, told Radio Dabanga that the group was released at 2.45am, and immediately airlifted to Abu Karinka.

As reported by Radio Dabanga on Monday, the group, claimed to consist mainly of women, children, and elderly members of the Ma'alia tribe, was kidnapped on the road from Ed Daein to Abu Karinka.

Most of the victims had apparently been stranded in Ed Daein as a result of the recent clashes between the tribes. A lull in tribal hostilities was expected to be an opportunity for them to return home. They were being escorted to Abu Karinka by a contingent of the Sudanese army and government officials, but these apparently failed to intervene and prevent the abduction.

Delegations from both tribes were scheduled to sign a reconciliation agreement on Sunday, but the kidnapping caused negotiations between the tribes to be suspended. On Tuesday, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of SDG150,000 ($34,000).

Commissioner Gissin said that no ransom was ultimately paid for the release of the hostages, following negotiations brokered by the Governor of East Darfur, Abdul Hamid Musa Kasha and the Committee on State Security. He also denied rumours that the hostages had been beaten or tortured during their five days of captivity.

Gissin also confirmed the arrival of Ma'alia and Rizeigat delegations in El Taweisha in North Darfur on Wednesday, where they intend to discuss and sign a cessation of hostilities and ceasefire agreement as a prelude to negotiating a lasting peace.

The Commissioner said that that "the most important agenda points are to stop the war and hostilities, to disperse the gathered militants, reopen roads and markets, repair the social fabric, and restore peace and quiet."

He predicted that the delegations would sign an agreement "within the next 24 hours".

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