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Updated: March 18, 2010 19:11 IST

Kidnapped Red Cross worker freed in Darfur

AP
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French Foreign Minister Mr. Bernard Kouchner, left, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, prior to their talks at Mr. Hatoyama's official residence in Tokyo on Thursday. Photo: AP.
French Foreign Minister Mr. Bernard Kouchner, left, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, prior to their talks at Mr. Hatoyama's official residence in Tokyo on Thursday. Photo: AP.

A French aid worker kidnapped in Darfur five months ago was freed on Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the French government said.

Gauthier Lefevre was freed close to al—Geneina, the West Darfur capital, and was in good health, the ICRC said. He was taken hostage near the city on October 22 by an unidentified group while working to help local communities upgrade water supply systems.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, welcomed Mr. Lefevre’s release as “a relief and a great joy.”

The ICRC had said the kidnappers were seeking a ransom.

Spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas, said the aid group didn’t make any payments to secure Mr. Lefevre’s release, while Mr. Kouchner’s statement gave no details of how the Frenchman was liberated or if a ransom was paid.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, sent a statement thanking the Sudanese authorities “for their particularly valuable help in managing this crisis.”

The statement didn’t provide details.

Mr. Lefevre’s release comes days after two French humanitarian workers also held hostage in Darfur were freed. The two employees of the Lyon, France—based Triangle Humanitarian Generation aid group were seized in Central African Republic, which neighbours Sudan.

The ICRC has worked in Sudan since 1978, providing emergency aid, medical care and other services to civilians affected by armed conflict in the south of the country and more recently in Darfur.

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