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8 Aid Workers Kidnapped by South Sudan Rebels

South Sudan rebels (File Photo)South Sudan rebels (File Photo)

Aid workers employed by a US-based Christian charity have been abducted in famine-hit South Sudan and negotiations were ongoing for their release.

The local aid workers were taken from a village near Mayendit in Unity state, where a famine has been declared, 680 km northeast of the capital, Juba, Aljazeera reported.

“The rebels attacked and abducted eight local staff from Samaritan’s Purse and they are being held to ransom,” Brigadier-General Lul Ruai Koang said.

However, the rebels dismissed as “propaganda” the military’s claim of a kidnapping.

The charity confirmed the abductions in a statement, but denied a ransom had been demanded.

“We have been in contact with them and they have not been harmed. No ransom request has been made and we are hopeful that they will be released soon and safely,” it said.

South Sudan has been devastated by three years of civil war, with tens of thousands killed.

The fighting has slowed the humanitarian response to the famine, as United Nations and aid groups plead for access.

Two Indian nationals working in South Sudan’s oilfields in the northern Upper Nile region were abducted by rebels last week, Information Minister Michael Makuei said on Monday.

He said the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of $1 million from the oil company, which he named as the partly Chinese-owned Dar Petroleum, or the government.

“The government of South Sudan will not pay the ransom,” the minister said, calling for the unconditional release of the hostages.

Aid workers have frequently complained of bureaucratic obstacles, checkpoints where government or rebel troops demand payments from aid convoys, looting of compounds and even the rape and murder of humanitarian workers.

 

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