Freed Bulgarian Pilots in Sudan Return Safely Home

Diplomacy | June 7, 2011, Tuesday // 19:20|  views

Branko Chorbadzhiyski, Veselin Manolov and Alexander Dimitrov (in plain clothes) are pictured here together with their rescuers from Bulgaria. Photo by 24 Hours daily

The three Bulgarian pilots who have been abducted in Sudan landed safely in their homeland Tuesday evening.

According to initial information, the three are in good health condition, after being freed Monday in the wake of 145 days in captivity.

The Bulgarian airforce craft landed at Sofia Airport and was welcomed by PM Boyko Borisov.

Earlier Tuesday the Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that no ransom has been paid for their freedom.

"No ransom has been paid for the release of the three Bulgarians, no commitments have been made to the Sudanese authorities," Minister Nikolay Mladenov, who is currently in Sudan's capital Khartoum, told Darik radio on Tuesday.

He explained that the operation took much longer than expected but was eventually successful thanks to the very close cooperation between the Bulgarian institutions and the Sudanese authorities.

"It was really very complicated as we had to reveal all tribal family ties that surround this kidnapping in a very remote part of Darfur," Minister Mladenov said.

The three men - Branko Chorbadzhiyski, Veselin Manolov and Alexander Dimitrov - are in good health, the minister assured.

They were flown to the capital, Khartoum, and are expected to land in Bulgaria on Tuesday.

The three Bulgarians working for the United Nations were seized in January by armed men at an air strip in the town of Um Shalaya, in the largely lawless region of Darfur, Sudan.

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: United Nations, Sudanese, Heli Air, UN, humanitarian aid, Bulgarians, Sudan, abducted, Bulgarian, United Nations, Darfur, Um Shalaya, Bulgaria, Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, Sudan, Catherine Ashton, Boyko Borisov


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