Two Russians abducted in Sudan’s Darfur freed: embassy

UTair airline employee Mikhail Antyufeev (L) arrives at the airport, after he was freed from hostage, in Khartoum, Sudan June 6, 2015. (Reuters)

Two Russians kidnapped in Sudan’s Darfur in January have been freed by their captors, a spokesman for Russia’s embassy in Khartoum said Saturday.

The men, Sergei Cherepanov and Mikhail Antyufeev, arrived at Khartoum airport from Zalingei on Saturday afternoon, an AFP correspondent said.

Both appeared in good health as they attended a press conference at the airport with the Russian ambassador and Sudanese officials.

They were abducted by an unidentified group near the town of Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur state, on January 29.

“According to the information we got from the National Intelligence and Security Service yesterday, they were freed in central Darfur at 7:30 pm (1630 GMT),” embassy spokesman Artur Safukov told AFP.

“There was no ransom or use of force in order to release them. It was a peaceful release,” Safukov said the NISS had reported.

A senior NISS officer involved in securing the Russians’ release said security forces had detained the abductors.

“The kidnappers and their equipment and their vehicles are now under our control,” Lieutenant General Taj al-Sir Osman told journalists, without identifying them.

Cherepanov and Antyufeev were employed by Russia’s UTair company and were in Sudan on a contract for the United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Russian media had reported.

The mission deployed to the western region in 2007 to protect civilians and secure aid to Darfur, which has been wracked by conflict since 2003 when mostly black insurgents rebelled against the government complaining of marginalization.

Some 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes, the United Nations says, although Khartoum estimates the death toll at 10,000.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46