Sudan kidnappers threaten to kill aid workers

Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:15pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp and Khalid Abdel Aziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Kidnappers holding two aid workers in Sudan's Darfur region said on Sunday they will kill them unless Paris retried members of a French group convicted but later pardoned over the abduction of children from Chad.

An unnamed member of a group holding the two female aid workers captive and calling itself the Freedom Eagles of Africa also threatened to target French interests in Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic if their demands were unmet.

Stephanie Joidon, a Canadian, and Claire Dubois, a French national, working for Aid Medicale International (AMI) were seized at gunpoint from their compound in the south Darfur settlement of Ed el Fursan on April 4.

"We demand France open the case of the Zoe's Ark criminals and judge them through a fair court," one of the abductors told Reuters by telephone.

"If the French government is not serious in negotiations with us and does not respond to our request, we will kill the two aid workers," he said.

Six members of humanitarian group Zoe's Ark were jailed in 2007 for trying to fly children, aged between one and 10, out of Chad to Europe. Chad said they had no authorization to take the children out of the country.

The six, who denied the charges, were sentenced to eight years' hard labor by a Chadian court, but were pardoned in March 2008 by Chadian President Idriss Deby.

Joidon, who was allowed by the kidnappers to speak to Reuters, said she and Dubois were being treated well.   Continued...