Russia negotiates with Sudanese kidnappers to release contractors
The Russian embassy in Khartoum is negotiating with the kidnappers of two Russian contractors working for the airline company UTair, which is contracted by Unamid.
Officials at the embassy confirmed that the gunmen, who abducted the two men in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, on 29 January, are demanding a ransom. They said that they are cooperating with UTair, taking “all necessary measures” to release the men, Siberian Times reported.
Sergei Cherepanov (54) and Mikhail Antyufeev (26) were taken at gunpoint by a group of armed men wearing masks, as they travelled in an unguarded UN minibus in Zalingei. An as yet undisclosed amount has been demanded for their release.
The father of Antyufeev told Siberian Times that “the last time we talked to Mikhail was on 25 January. As always, he assured us that he was fine, and was going to the market. On the 29th, UTair contacted his wife, and said that Mikhail was kidnapped.”
According to the newspaper, UTair negotiated independently with the kidnappers for five days. When this failed, they sought official help.
In a press statement, UTair said that the pilots were travelling in a minibus that was intercepted by six vehicles, correcting earlier reports that the men were on foot, and were stopped by one car. “The passengers, who were held at gunpoint, were forced to leave the bus, and were taken in an unknown direction.”
Unamid contracted UTair for assistance in its peacekeeping mission.
(Source: Siberian Times, by Derek Lambie)
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