Freed Irish Hostage Is Reunited With Family

An Irish aid worker kidnapped in Darfur has arrived home to Ireland, greeted by her family for the first time since her release after 107 days of captivity, officials said Tuesday.

Sharon Commins, 33, touched down in a government plane at Baldonnel Aerodrome southwest of Dublin just before midnight (2300 GMT Monday), a spokesman for the Irish foreign affairs ministry told AFP.

In an emotional reunion, she hugged her parents, Mark and Agatha, and the rest of her family and expressed her pleasure at being home, according to the spokesman, who was at the airport at the time, AFP reports.

"Up until now all of it was just a dream," she said at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel.

"I dreamt so often when I was on top of a mountain of getting back to Ireland. "This is the first time it's not a dream and I hope I don't wake up on top of a mountain in a few minutes."

Earlier, Ms Commins had revealed how she and her Ugandan colleague Hilda Kawuki had been snatched and subjected to mock executions during their ordeal, Sky News informs.

The two women, who work for Irish aid agency Goal, were transferred from Darfur to Khartoum yesterday morning. Ms Commins left the Sudanese capital in the afternoon on the Government jet which had been dispatched from Baldonnel to bring her home.

In an interview with The Irish Times, the two women described how their captors had initially tried to reassure them but then turned threatening and abusive, going on to subject them to mock executions.

"I had never seen that level of anger and sheer evilness in people’s eyes," Ms Commins recalled. "It was a shock to have people screaming at you in Arabic and pointing a gun to your head or shooting bullets around you.

"They would make us sit down or force us on our knees . . . with everyone pointing guns at us. They would sometimes shoot a few bullets to frighten us. Each time you’re hoping it is a mock assassination but you don’t know . . . If they let go of a bullet, you’re gone."

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