Russian air crew kidnapped in Darfur freed: Army

Three Russian helicopter crew members have been freed a day after they were abducted.

Last Updated: Aug 31, 2010, 18:38 PM IST

Khartoum: Three Russian helicopter crew
members have been freed a day after they were abducted in
Sudan`s war-torn western region of Darfur, a Sudanese army
spokesman said to a news agency.

"The three Russian pilots were freed last night,"
following negotiations with the abductors, army spokesman
Sawarmi Khaled Saad said.

The Russians, who worked for private aviation company
Badr, were abducted on Sunday by gunmen in Nyala, capital of
South Darfur.

The Kremlin special envoy on Sudan, Mikhail Margelov, was
quoted by the Interfax news agency as identifying the three as
the captain of a Mi-8 helicopter and two crew members.

"The helicopter was carrying food and other civilian
supplies for the United Nations mission to Darfur," Margelov

Darfur has been gripped by civil war since 2003 that has
left 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced, according
to the United Nations. Khartoum says 10,000 have been killed
in the conflict.

Strife-torn Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings since
March 2009, when the International Criminal Court indicted
Sudan`s President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes there,
with 23 foreigners seized.

With the release of the Russians, no foreigners remain in

Yesterday, a US aid worker who had been held for more
than 100 days was finally released by her abductors after
negotiations with the authorities, Sudan foreign ministry
spokesman Moawiya Osman said, stressing however that no
ransom had been paid.