Jordanian peacekeepers freed by Darfur rebels

January 03, 2013 - 1:42:56 am

KHARTOUM: Two tired-looking Jordanian peacekeepers arrived in the Sudanese capital yesterday after their release from a record 136 days of captivity in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.

Hassan Mazawdeh and Qasem Sarhan appeared to be in good condition but made no comment as they stood with an official from the Jordanian embassy and a senior member of the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which employs them.

“The two officers are in good health and have been released after four months as hostages,” Jordanian embassy charge d’affaires Riyadh Al Nigad told reporters.

UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri said that they had been held longer than anyone else in the five-year-old UNAMID mission, the world’s largest peacekeeping operation.

She said the men flew to Khartoum after their release earlier yesterday in Zalingei, capital of the recently-created Central Darfur state, and would be returning home to Jordan.

A reporter said the freed men, wearing civilian clothes, got into an ambulance at the Khartoum airport.

The were to be checked in hospital after their release by “outlaws”, a Sudanese intelligence officer said.

The Jordanians went missing on August 20 in Kebkabiya town, about 140 kilometres west of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state where the UN has warned in recent months of rising insecurity.

Jordan welcomed their release.

“Police corporals Hassan Mazawdeh and Qasem Sarhan are now at the Jordanian mission, enjoying good health,” the kingdom’s Public Security Directorate said in a statement in Amman.