Sudan Ready with Rescue Plan for Abducted Bulgarians

Diplomacy | January 14, 2011, Friday // 10:32|  views

A file photograph shows a Sudanese man with bullet wounds in the MSF (Medicines Sans Frontier) clinic as staff busily go about their work, Darfur, Sudan. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Sudan's government has drawn up an emergency rescue plan for the three Bulgarian air crew members working for the United Nations, who were abducted in Darfur region on Thursday, the country's foreign ministry announced.

The three, said to be a helicopter crew, were seized by armed men at an air strip, according to the UN World Food Programme.

Bulgaria confirmed that three pilots had been seized in the town of Um Shalaya, in the largely lawless region of Darfur.

Bulgaria's foreign ministry said the three people kidnapped were pilots working for the private company Heli Air.

"The situation is very serious. It is in the interest of the abducted Bulgarians that we refrain from comments without knowing all the details," foreign ministry spokeswoman Vessela Cherneva said in Sofia.

The kidnappers have not set any demands for the release of the Bulgarians yet, except for some food, the company's executive director announced.

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry confirmed that they have launched a rescue operation with the cooperation of the UN and Sudanese government.

The identities of the abducted Bulgarians have not been revealed, but unconfirmed reports say one of them is the father of CSKA youth team player Bozhidar Chorbadjiisky.

Bandits and armed groups frequently kidnap U.N. and international aid workers in Darfur. The kidnappings have increased since March 2009, when the International Criminal Court indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in the region.

Most of the hostages have been released unharmed.

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Tags: Um Shalaya, Darfur, United Nations, Bulgarian, abducted, Sudan, Bulgarians, humanitarian aid, UN, Heli Air, Sudanese


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