Bloomberg News

Three Bulgarian Air Crew Members Freed in Sudan’s Darfur

June 06, 2011

(Updates with WFP statement in the third paragraph.)

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Three Bulgarian helicopter crew members working for the United Nations World Food Programme were released today in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, WFP said.

“The three appeared to be in good health,” WFP Regional Director Amer Daoudi said in an e-mailed statement today. The three men will stop in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, before traveling back to Bulgaria.

The helicopter crew was kidnapped on Jan. 13 at a landing strip in Um Shalaya, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, according to the statement.

Bandits and armed groups have targeted UN agencies and international aid groups who are in Darfur to assist civilians displaced by the conflict that erupted in 2003 when insurgents took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglecting the region.

The conflict has led to the deaths of as many as 300,000 people, mainly due to illness and starvation, and forced about 2.7 million to flee their homes, according to UN estimates. The Sudanese government has put the death toll at about 10,000.

--Editors: Philip Sanders, Louis Meixler

To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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