Published on June 6,2015
KHARTOUM, Two freed Russian pilots arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Saturday after being held hostages for 107 days in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The two pilots, 55-year-old Mikhail Antyufeev and 34-year-old Sergei Cherepanov, appeared in good condition as they stepped down the plane from Zalenge, the capital of Central Darfur State.
“Thanks to the Almighty God that the abduction ended peacefully and without any loss,” said Ja’afar Abdel-Hakam, governor of Central Darfur State, who accompanied the two Russian pilots.
He reiterated Sudan’s condemnation on abduction of international aid workers and personnel of international organizations including United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
“Yesterday (Friday) evening, the security authorities managed to free the two pilots. The security service has sent a plane to transport the freed pilots from Zalenge to Khartoum,” said Gen. Taj Al-Sir Osman, representative of the Sudanese Intelligence and Security Service.
He further reiterated that the release of the two pilots has been done in a highly professional manner and without paying any ransom.
Russian ambassador in Khartoum, Mirgayas Shirinsky, meanwhile, expressed his thanks and appreciation for the Sudanese government and the national intelligence and security service.
One of the freed pilots, Mikhail Antyufeev, appeared tired as he told reporters that “the moment of kidnapping was surprising to the extent that we could not tell how we felt then.”
The two Russian pilots, who are working for UNAMID, were abducted late last January by an unidentified armed group in central Darfur when they were heading from a market to the mission base in Zalenge town.
Similar kidnapping of humanitarian workers and UNAMID personnel have happened several times in the Darfur region, but the Sudanese government has managed to secure the release of the abducted without losing their lives or paying ransom.