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Africa

Kidnapped French Red Cross worker is released

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2010-02-07

A French aid worker, Laurent Maurice, who was kidnapped in Chad last year has been released in good health after three months in captivity, a Red Cross official has confirmed.

AFP - A French aid worker kidnapped in November in Chad was released on Saturday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.

Laurent Maurice "regained his freedom today... after 89 days in captivity, he is tired but appears to be in good health," the ICRC said, adding that fellow staff member Gauthier Lefevre, kidnapped in October in Darfur, was still held.

"The ICRC remains very concerned about Mr Lefevre and continues to press for his unconditional release," the ICRC said.

Lefevre, who also holds British nationality, was abducted on October 22 in the Sudanese region of Darfur, near the border with Chad.

The kidnappers demanded a million euros (1.5 million dollars) for his release.

Armed men seized Maurice, an agronomist who was in east Chad to assess recent harvests, in the village of Kawa, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the border with Sudan.

The ICRC did not say under what circumstances Maurice had been freed.

"The ICRC is relieved that Laurent is now free, and happy that he will soon be back with his family and friends," said Jordi Raich, the head of the ICRC's delegation in Sudan.

"We would like to express our profound gratitude to all those who helped us in one way or another during his captivity."

Daniel Duvillard, ICRC head of operations for East Africa, said in December that the agency was in "relatively frequent" contact with Lefevre and indirectly with Maurice through his kidnappers.

The abductions had led to the suspension of some aid work in remote rural areas of eastern Chad and west Sudan, he added.

A total of four French aid workers, including the two ICRC staff, have been abducted since October in a string of attacks in an area straddling eastern Chad, Sudan's war-torn Darfur and the Central African Republic.

The pattern of incidents, along with carjackings and other security problems blamed on a mix of banditry and political demands, has alarmed the international aid community in the region.
 

Date created : 2010-02-06

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