Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped three workers from the United Nation’s refugee agency in Sudan’s restive Darfur region.
The three workers – one from Sudan and two from Nepal – were kidnapped on Sunday from Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, and were taken to an unknown location, Abdallah Gar al-Nabi, West Darfur government spokesman, said on Monday.
UNHCR officials were not immediately available for comment, but its spokesman in Khartoum said a meeting was underway to discuss the “urgent incident”.
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A resident from Geneina said the gunmen came in a 4×4 vehicle.
“I saw some armed men ordering the three UN employees to get into their vehicle. They then drove off quickly,” he said on condition of anonymity.
“The incident happened near the main mosque of Geneina.”
Sunday’s abduction of UNHCR staff is not the first in Darfur.
Several foreign and Sudanese aid workers have been abducted in the region over the years.
Darfur has been engulfed in a deadly conflict since 2003, when ethnic minority black tribes took up arms against President Omar al-Bashir’s government.
As part of its counter-insurgency strategy, the government turned to the “Janjaweed” recruited from Arab tribes, who have since been incorporated into official paramilitary units.
Analysts say militias in search of resources often turn on each other, and sometimes against the government even as Khartoum insists that violence in Darfur has ebbed.
At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in Darfur since the conflict began in 2003, according to the UN.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges related to Darfur, which he denies.
Sudan also wants UN peacekeepers who have been deployed in Darfur, a region the size of France, since 2007 to leave.