15 Mar 2009

Kidnapped aid workers released

11:38 am on 15 March 2009

Three foreign aid workers with the French-based medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres who were kidnapped in Sudan's Darfur region have been released.

Armed men seized the staff from the Belgian arm of MSF from their base in north Darfur on Wednesday.

The abductions came at a time of rising tension in Sudan.

The International Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to face charges of orchestrating war crimes in Darfur.

Sudan immediately expelled 13 international aid groups from the north of the country, accusing them of passing information to the court, an accusation the groups deny.

The latest confirmation of the aid workers' release follows earlier confusion, with reports refuting an earlier statement that they had been freed.

Late on Saturday, the head of protocol at Sudan's Foreign Ministry, Ali Youssef Ahmed, said the workers were well, and their release was expected in the next few hours.