Swiss woman abducted in Sudan’s Darfur region freed

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A Swiss aid worker abducted in Sudan’s war-torn southern region of Darfur last month has been freed by Sudanese security forces and is in good health, a regional government official said on Wednesday.

The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed that the woman, who was abducted on Oct. 7 in the city of El-Fasher in North Darfur, had been freed.

Sudanese officials did not name those responsible for the kidnapping or provide further details of the rescue. Authorities had previously said they suspected a criminal gang.

A spokesman for the North Darfur government said security forces launched an operation early on Wednesday morning to free the woman from where she was being held in a rural area just outside the southern town of Kutum.

North Darfur deputy governor Mohamed Barima said she was subsequently taken to a security headquarters at Kutum. The Swiss and Sudanese governments have not identified the woman.

“The Swiss foreign ministry is relieved by this positive development and thanks the Sudanese authorities for their great commitment,” the Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement.

A multi-agency task force including federal police and intelligence was formed following the woman’s abduction to help win her release, the ministry said.

Khartoum has been at war with rebel groups in Darfur since 2003, when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against Sudan’s Arab-led government.

Sudan has been keen to show it is making progress in winding down long-standing conflicts after the United States lifted 20-year old sanctions last month. Just after the sanctions decision Khartoum announced it would extend a unilateral ceasefire with rebels until the end of December.

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