Jordanian UN officers abducted in Darfur

KHARTOUM — Two Jordanian officers from the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) who were abducted at gunpoint have been freed, Jordanian and Sudanese officials said on Tuesday.

By (AFP)

Published: Tue 17 Aug 2010, 6:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:49 AM

“First Lieutenant Ahmad Qeisi and First Lieutenant Nabil Kilani have been released,” Jordanian Information Minister Ali Ayed said in a statement carried by the state-run Petra news agency in Amman.

“They are currently at the Jordanian mission in Darfur and in good health,” Ayed said.

Qeisi and Kilani, police officers deployed with UNAMID, were seized on Saturday by armed men in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state.

“They were released following negotiations. But no ransom was paid,” the governor of South Darfur state, Abdelhamid Mussa Kasha, told AFP.

It was not clear, however, when the officers were set free.

Meanwhile Jordan’s King Abdullah II ordered the dispatch of a military plane to Darfur to bring home the two freed officers, the palace in Amman said.

UNAMID said the officers were abducted on Saturday by three gunmen as they were walking towards a transport dispatch point.

A security source in Jordan later said the pair were in a UN car along with two other Jordanian officers when gunmen ambushed them, forcing the other two passengers out of the vehicle.

“The gunmen then commandeered the vehicle, speeding off to Jabal Marra, 100 kilometres (62 miles) away from the headquarters,” the Jordanian source said on Monday.

The source said Jordan had contacted the officers.

“The kidnappers told us that they have no problem with the Jordanian officers and that what happened was because the abductors want the United Nations to meet their demands,” he had said without elaborating.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Part of Jabal Marra is seen as a stronghold of the Sudan Liberation Army of rebel leader Abdelwahid Mohammed Nur but rebel officials have denied any involvement in the abduction.

Saturday’s abduction was the third since August 2009 to target UNAMID in the volatile region of Darfur.

Civil war has gripped Darfur since 2003, killing 300,000 people and displacing 2.7 million others, according to the United Nations. Khartoum says 10,000 have been killed in the conflict.

On Monday UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm about the situation in Darfur and urged Sudanese authorities to “bring to justice those who attack UN staff and humanitarian workers,” a statement said.

Ban also asked the Sudanese government “to take all possible measures to ensure that humanitarian access to all Sudanese remains open and humanitarian space protected.”

Hours earlier on Monday, local authorities in West Darfur state expelled five humanitarian workers employed in the region by the United Nations and the Red Cross.

Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings of foreign aid workers since March 2009 when the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Nineteen foreigners, including 10 Westerners, have been kidnapped there since March 2003 but all were subsequently released except an American aid worker with the Samaritan’s Purse group abducted in May.

She is still being held by her kidnappers who have demanded a ransom before she is freed.

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