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Russian pilot freed in Darfur

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January 28, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese authorities said yesterday that they managed to free a Russian pilot who was kidnapped in Nyala, capital of South Darfur on Thursday.

The pilot who worked for UTair was abducted by three armed men from a location close to his residence and fled using a Taeco vehicle. One of the kidnappers was reportedly wearing a military uniform.

A joint force from the central reserve police and National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) conducted a joint operation and managed to free the pilot after clashing with the group in Al-Salam locality.

However, the kidnappers managed to escape to an unknown destination. The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement asking its companies operating there to remain vigilant.

"We once again ask Russian companies operating in Sudan to into account the non-simple situation which experienced endured by the Darfur region and cooperate closely with the formations of the joint mission and the Russian Embassy”.

Lack of security and kidnappings in Darfur — there have been more than a dozen abductions of foreign workers by young men demanding ransoms since 2009 — have hindered the world’s largest humanitarian operation.

Russian pilots have frequently been targets of kidnappings in Darfur. This prompted Russian special envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov to direct unusual criticism at Khartoum saying it appears unable to assert control over security in Darfur.

(ST)

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