Home | News    Sunday 1 February 2015

SPLM-N releases six Bulgarian hostages held in S. Kordofan

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February 1, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Six Bulgarian nationals operating a helicopter contracted by the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) were on Sunday released by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels.

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A WFP helicopter working in refugee camps in Ethiopia’s Somali Region (Photo courtesy of the WFP)

Also the WFP confirmed that the rebel handed over the helicopter crew members to its office in a refugees camp near the Sudanese border.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the chair of the New Sudan Women’s League in Yida camp, South Sudan, Husna Alnour, said the six Bulgarian are now free and have been handed over to UN officials in the camp.

“We are pleased to announce that the leadership of the SPLM-N and the Civilian Administration in the Liberated Areas have responded to our initiative and we have this morning handed over the pilots and the team of WFP to the headquarters of the Yida Refugee Camp,” Alnour said.

She further said their release come after a request they had made to the SPLM-N leadership asking to free the hostages and proposed to evacuate them “as a humanitarian gesture towards their families and the women of the State Bulgaria”.

The SPLM-N women underlined that the their initiative was triggered by the “suffering of the families that have lost their loved-ones, and dispersed through displacement.

“The WFP crew members reached a WFP office in Yida near the border with South Kordofan this morning. A group known as the New Sudan Women’s League says that they engaged with the SPLM-N to arrange the return of the crew,” confirmed the UN agency in a statement released on Sunday.

On 26 January, a helicopter operated by a Bulgarian air carrier working for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) made an emergency landing under fire east of Kadugli, South Kordofan state in a SPLM-N controlled area.

The helicopter was flying from Rumbek in South Sudan to the Sudanese capital Khartoum where it was due to undergo regular maintenance.

The SPLM-N rebels said their troops forced the helicopter to land because it was “flying over an intense war zone, and where the Sudan air force is conducting continuous aerial bombardments against the civilian and military targets”.

Earlier this week, the Bulgarian foreign ministry said the Sudanese government had sent a military air-plane to fly over the area, but the helicopter was sighted with no noticeable damage.

(ST)

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