Mediation for kidnapped Ukrainian in Darfur ongoing
Large numbers of soldiers and militiamen have gathered in Saraf Umra area, North Darfur, igniting fear among the population for possible clashes. Native administration leaders are mediating with the militiamen who kidnapped a Ukrainian pilot and a translator, after a failed attempt to release them on Monday.
The pilot from Ukraine and the Sudanese translator were kidnapped from the premises of a relief organisation by a group of militiamen in Um Tajok in Kereinik locality, on the border with North Darfur, on Saturday. The kidnappers killed a security guard before they entered the house. The two were taken across the state border to Saraf Umra locality, from where the abductors demanded a ransom for their release.
A mediation committee, established from leaders of the local native administration, negotiated with the kidnappers on Monday and managed to commit them to hand over the abductees to the Sudanese military forces at 8 pm that evening. The militiamen also agreed to waive the payment of the ransom of SDG2 million ($330,000) which they demanded earlier.
After a group of militiamen brought the pilot and the translator to El Riyad neighbourhood, east of Saraf Umra, the army commander raised the demands and wanted the perpetrators to be handed over as well. The militiamen refused and the commander returned to report to the military garrison in Salam neighbourhood in downtown Saraf Umra.
Today, the mediation committee asked the army commander to give the mediators until 8 pm on Wednesday to negotiate with the abductors.
“People are worried that fights could erupt when the mediation fails.”
The Ukrainian pilot operates a helicopter that sprays farmlands with pesticides, a source who works in the relief sector in West Darfur disclosed to Radio Dabanga. The Ministry of Agriculture in West Darfur had rented the helicopter for a number of days to spray farmlands. The pilot was housed at the premises of a relief organisation in Um Tajok. .
A senior government official told Radio Dabanga that “the Sudanese and the state governments are concerned about the safety of the abductees”, and that the security service “closely follows the movements of the perpetrators”. Services in the five states of Darfur have coordinated their efforts to catch the perpetrators soon, he said.
One of the mediators reported to this station that meanwhile, militiamen have gathered in the area of Saraf Umra, and that the military has received reinforcements from other states. “The situation in Saraf Umra is very tense. People are worried that fights could erupt when the mediation fails.
“Militiamen are massing in El Tadamon, west of Saraf Umra. There are dozens of vehicles,” the mediator said. El Tadamon is a stronghold of militiamen led by Musa Hilal.
He added that military reinforcements arrived in the area today, in more than 50 Land Cruisers, from Central and West Darfur.
The mediator expressed his fear that should they fail to solve the issue with the abductors, the army will clash with the militiamen.
Correction 28/10/2015 13:00: Relief organisation Islamic Relief Worldwide commented that the translator mentioned in this story does not work for Islamic Relief. In addition, their premises in West Darfur have not been used by non-Islamic Relief staff.
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