KHARTOUM, Sudan - Two foreign aid workers seized at gunpoint more than three months ago in Sudan’s Darfur region were released yesterday by their captors, a Sudanese government official said.
The Irish and Ugandan women were in good health and were having medical checkups at a hospital in northern Darfur, said Abdel-Baqi al-Jailani, Sudan’s state minister for humanitarian affairs
The women were taken hostage July 3 in the western region of Sudan, where government forces have been battling rebels for more than six years. Sharon Commins, 33, and her colleague, Hilda Kuwuki, 42, were working for GOAL, an Irish humanitarian aid agency
Shortly after they were seized, Jailani said the kidnappers were seeking a ransom and did not appear to have political motives, though on Saturday he said no ransom was paid. He gave no details on how the release came about, except to say it involved the cooperation of local and federal governments as well as tribal leaders in the region.
In Ireland, Commins’s mother, Agatha, said she was asleep when she got a call from a Sudanese government minister and then spoke to her daughter. She said it was a short call and her daughter sounded well.
The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs declined to describe the deal that won the women’s release. It described both as thin but in good health.
John O’Shea, the head of the humanitarian agency where the two women worked, also denied that ransom was paid to secure their release.
It was the third kidnapping of foreign humanitarian workers in Sudan’s remote western region since March, when an international court issued an arrest warrant for the country’s president on charges of orchestrating war crimes there.