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German aid workers released after Darfur kidnapping

Two German aid workers kidnapped at gunpoint in Sudan have been released. The men, described as safe and well, were abducted five weeks ago in a region where hostility to relief operations is on the rise.

A German flag with a map showing Sudan in the background

The freed men spoke to the German embassy by telephone

Two German relief workers who were kidnapped in the Sudanese region of Darfur were released on Tuesday, ending a five-week ordeal.

"I am very happy and extremely relieved," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was on a visit to Slovenia at the time of the announcement.

A Foreign Ministry statement said that the men, aged 34 and 52, were safe and well in Nyala, capital of the South Darfur region. The statement said that the men would be taken to the Sudanese capital Khartoum during the course of Tuesday.

"They are well, considering the circumstances," said the statement. The ministry said that the men had been met by members of the Red Cross and that they had spoken with the German embassy by telephone.

Details about the circumstances of the men's release were not given.

Taken at gunpoint

The workers were kidnapped from their base in Nyala by seven men, four armed with AK-47 assault rifles, on June 22. They had been working for the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), which provides technical assistance to other aid projects.

Aid groups in Darfur reported a surge in hostility towards their operations after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March 2009 for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over the alleged ordering of war crimes in Darfur.

Author: Richard Connor (dpaAFP/Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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