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Russian pilots abducted in Sudan’s Darfur region

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August 30, 2010

(KATAKAMI / BBC) —  Two Russian pilots have been kidnapped in Sudan’s western Darfur region, the country’s state-run Suna news agency has reported.

They work for Sudan’s Badr Airlines and were abducted in the town of Nyala on Sunday afternoon.

There has been a spate of abductions in the last year targeting foreigners.

Earlier this month, two Jordanians working with Darfur’s international peace force were taken by unidentified gunmen, but were later freed unharmed.

Correspondents say that most kidnappings appear to be for money.

Trench

“For the moment we don’t have any information, either on the kidnappers or the kidnapped,” AFP news agency quotes South Darfur’s governor Abdel Hamid Kasha as saying.

According to Reuters news agency, the UN and African Union peacekeepers are digging a trench around Nyala, Darfur’s largest town, to prevent kidnappers entering the town.

Unrest and fighting has intensified in Darfur over the last few months after rebel Justice and Equality Movement rebels pulled out of peace talks with the government, accusing it of acting in bad faith.

The UN estimates the six-year conflict in Darfur has cost the lives of 300,000 people and driven a further 2.7m from their homes.

The government puts the death toll at 10,000 and has said the problems in Darfur have been exaggerated for political reasons.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes committed in Darfur – charges he strongly denies.

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