Khartoum: Five Turkish engineers kidnapped last September in Sudan`s troubled western region of Darfur were freed and flown to the capital Khartoum on Thursday, the state news agency SUNA and the Red Cross said.
SUNA said the men had been working on a water project near the city of El-Fasher in North Darfur when they were abducted by armed men.
"Security forces... managed to free five Turkish hostages at noon today," SUNA said, blaming the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) for the kidnapping. It gave no details, and JEM could not immediately be reached for comment.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), however, said in a statement it had "facilitated the handover ... of five Turkish citizens released by the Justice and Equality Movement to a representative of the Turkish embassy in Khartoum”.
"The ICRC took no part in the negotiations that led to the release of the detainees," but liaised between the parties at their request and helped with transport arrangements, the statement said. A spokeswoman said the Turks were flown to Khartoum on an ICRC aircraft.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the five workers had been kidnapped on September 09, but said they had been travelling to Chad at the time.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke with each of them on the phone and they will be returned to Turkey soon, the ministry said.
Darfur, a mostly desert region, is the scene of a nine-year-old insurgency in which mainly non-Arab rebels have fought government forces and allied militia groups.
Fighting has declined from its peak in 2003 and 2004 but clashes continue and the United Nations has said as many as 300,000 people may have died. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.