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    Russian embassy in Sudan confirms release of kidnapped Russian pilots

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    Three Russian pilots, kidnapped on Sunday in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, have been released, an official with the Russian embassy in Khartoum said on Tuesday.

    Three Russian pilots, kidnapped on Sunday in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, have been released, an official with the Russian embassy in Khartoum said on Tuesday.

    "They have been released and taken to the city of Nyala [in Sudan's South Darfur province]. They are feeling fine, none of them was injured," said Yevgeny Arzhantsev, who heads the embassy's consular department.

    Three Russian pilots, employees of the Khartoum-based Badr Airlines, were abducted in South Darfur on Sunday. The airliner provides cargo and passenger air services for various international aid programs.

    Their Mi-8 helicopter was carrying food and other civilian supplies for the UN mission in Darfur.

    Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin's special envoy for Sudan, confirmed media reports about the release of pilots earlier in the day.

    He described the abductors as members of a "half-political, half-criminal group which specializes in abducting foreigners for ransom."

    The Deputy Chief of Badr Airlines, Mutaz Shora, said the company did not pay any ransom to release the pilots.

    "The company did not receive any ransom demands from the abductors, the hostages were released without any preconditions," he said.

    The abduction is the latest in a string of kidnappings in the war-torn region in Sudan's west, where situation remains tense after at least 300,000 died in a civil war in early 2003. It is also the second abduction of Russians in slightly more than a month.

    An Mi-8 helicopter of the UTair company, working in Sudan under a UN contract, with four Russian crew members and five Sudanese passengers onboard, was hijacked in late July. The aircrew commander was taken hostage and released three days later.

     

    KHARTOUM, August 31 (RIA Novosti)

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