Three Russian Pilots Freed in Darfur

Three Russian pilots who were abducted in Sudan’s western region of Darfur on Aug. 29 have been freed, Sudan army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled said today.

The pilots are now in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, Khaled said by telephone from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. He didn’t give details on the captors or how the pilots were freed.

Four unidentified armed men had abducted the pilots, who worked for Sudanese Badr Airlines, and fled with them in a vehicle, Khaled said yesterday. Their release comes one day after a U.S. female aid worker from the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse was freed in Darfur after more than 100 days in captivity, Bloomberg reports.

Russia 's presidential envoy on Sudan, Mikhail Margelov, was quoted as identifying the three as the captain of a Mi-8 helicopter and two crew members.

"The helicopter was carrying food and other civilian supplies for the United Nations mission to Darfur," Margelov said.

Darfur has been gripped by civil war since 2003 that has left 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced, according to the United Nations. Khartoum says 10,000 have been killed in the conflict, according to Sydney Morning Herald.

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