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Two Russians Abducted in Darfur Freed

Two Russians kidnapped in Sudan's restive Darfur region in January have been freed by their captors, a spokesman for Russia's embassy in Khartoum said on June 6.

"There was no ransom or use of force in order to release them. It was a peaceful release," embassy spokesman Artur Safukov said.

The semiofficial Sudan Media Center quoted a Sudanese official as saying that the abductors had earlier demanded money for their release but that paying a ransom would have set a precedent that encourages kidnapping.

The men, Sergei Cherepanov and Mikhail Antyufeev, were abducted by an unidentified armed group near the town of Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur state, on January 29.

They were employed by Russia's UTair company and were in Sudan on a contract for the United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "deeply gratified" by the safe release of the UNAMID contractors, his spokesman said.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Interfax