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Two French aid workers abducted


Latest update : 2009-11-23

Two French aid workers from the NGO Triangle were kidnapped overnight from Sunday to Monday in the north-east of Central African Republic, Mahamat Salah Amadou Birao, Bangui's vice-consul in Darfur, told AFP.

AFP - Two French aid workers were kidnapped overnight by a gang of armed men in the northeast of Central African Republic, close to the border with Sudan, a Bangui diplomat in Sudan said Monday.

"They kidnapped two men, two Frenchmen from (relief agency) Triangle yesterday at 10:00 pm. There were about 20 of them and they were speaking Arabic. They fled towards Sudan," Mahamat Salah Amadou Birao, who is also a local elder, told AFP by phone.

"They also tried to kidnap a midwife with the (relief agency) CAM (Medical Aid Committee), but God was with her and they gave up. They took three cars and a motorbike from the non-governmental organisations," he added.

The aid workers were abducted from Birao, a town located near three borders where the Central African Republic adjoins Sudan and Chad. Birao is also part of a zone watched by the United Nations Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT).

Two employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were kidnapped in similar circumstances, on November 9 in Chad and on October 22 in Sudan.

Sources close to the Chadian military say that in both those previous cases, the kidnappers took refuge in western Sudan and demanded large ransoms.

Triangle did not wish to comment on Sunday's kidnapping, but the French foreign ministry called for the "unconditional and immediate" release of the captives.

In a statement, it said it "condemns this new criminal act which, once again, hits humanitarian workers in a region where NGO assistance to the population is primordial."

The non-governmental organisation -- whose name derives from three aspects of relief work: emergency, rehabilitation and development -- has been active in Central African Republic since 2007.

It has a staff of 11 expatriates and 80 Centrafrican workers.

The east of Chad, Darfur and the north of the Central African Republic are territory roamed by bandits and highwaymen as well as rebel groups, and relief agencies often deplore the precarious conditions in which they work.

Six aid groups temporarily withdrew from eastern Chad after the kidnapping on November 9, leaving 37,000 people without assistance.

In Sudan's strife-torn Darfur province, kidnapping of aid workers has become frequent. Two women working for the Irish charity Goal were kidnapped in July northwest of El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, before being freed in October.

Several other kidnappings of local or expatriate humanitarian staff have taken place this year, notably those of a French woman and a Canadian woman from the NGO AMI, when two Sudanese workers were killed.

Date created : 2009-11-23