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Gunmen kidnap aid worker in Darfur

Nairobi/Khartoum

A United Nations worker has been kidnapped in Sudan's restive Darfur province as a delegation from the UN Security Council arrived for a short visit, officials said.

Demonstrators voice support for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir as they protest the arrival of the UN Security Council in El Fasher in North Darfur. Credit: REUTERS

The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said gunmen took the employee from his home in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, on Thursday evening.

Kidnappings of aid workers and peacekeepers for ransom has been on the rise as insecurity continues to rise.

The UN estimates 300 000 people have died and almost 3 million have been displaced in Darfur since 2003, when mainly non-Arab tribesmen took up arms against what they called decades of neglect and discrimination by Khartoum.

Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.

Fighting had died down, but in recent months clashes between rebel groups and the Sudanese army have increased.

The Sudanese army attacked rebel positions near El Fasher shortly before the Security Council delegation, which is touring Sudan in support of peace efforts, arrived in the town to a hostile reception.

Several hundred protestors gathered outside the airport chanted slogans in support of Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide in Darfur.

Al-Bashir is accused of funding Arab militiamen and allowing them to run amok in the province. - Sapa-dpa

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