Africa

Latvian aid air crew kidnapped in Darfur

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Three Latvian aid air crew have been kidnapped in Darfur, in Sudan.

A spokeswoman for the World Food Programme said the three were helicopter crewmen contracted to the WFP.

The South Darfur governor, Abdel Hamid Kasha, had earlier said the three were Russian.

This is the latest in a series of kidnappings of foreign aid workers in Darfur in recent months. Ransoms are usually demanded.

"The abducted crew members are all Latvian nationals," WFP spokeswoman Amor Almagro said.

Mr Kasha said they were taken from a minibus in the South Darfur capital Nyala on Thursday.

He told Reuters that it was not known who the kidnappers were and that they were being pursued.

About 300,000 people have died since fighting began in Darfur in 2003, and some 2.7 million people have fled their homes as a result of the conflict, the UN says.

Rebel movements in Darfur have been fighting government soldiers and Arab militias, said to be backed by Khartoum.

President Omar al-Bashir was indicted in 2009 by the International Criminal Court for war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.

He denies the charges and says the number of deaths in Darfur due to the conflict has been greatly exaggerated.

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