Peacekeepers held in Darfur to be freed after poll result

Four South African peacekeepers from the joint United Nations-African Union mission who were kidnapped in Darfur over a week ago will be released after election results are out, according to their captors.

“We will release them after the results of the elections,” Ibrahim al-Dukki, of the People’s Democratic Struggle Movement, told Agence-France Presse by telephone.

Dukki said his group wanted to avoid releasing the hostages during any potential clashes after the results of Sudan’s first competitive election in 24 years, which ended on Thursday.

“We want to wait until the election results are out. We want to make sure first that there is no trouble before we release them. We will definitely release them after the election result,” Dukki said.

He said the four UNAMID police — two men and two women — were “in good health” and would be released in El-Fasher, the capital of north Darfur.

‘No money exchanged’
“We decided to release them after discussing the matter with several parties,” he said, declining to elaborate. “There will be no money in exchange for their release.”

The peacekeepers were abducted on April 11 as they left their team site just outside Nyala, UNAMID said.

The alarm was raised a day later when a colleague living in the same residence alerted the mission about their absence.

Last week Dukki told AFP his group wanted $400 000 for the hostages’ release, but said the main reason for their kidnapping was “to show the international community that security conditions in Darfur do not allow for elections.”

The kidnapping came as Sudan was holding its first competitive elections in more than two decades.

Election observers from the European Union had pulled out of war-torn Darfur, citing insecurity.

Darfur has been gripped by civil war since 2003. In the past year, the region has seen a wave of kidnappings of humanitarian workers and expatriates in general.

Since it was first deployed in January 2008, UNAMID has also suffered a number of deadly attacks. — AFP

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