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Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Monday, 13 April 2009 12:12 UK

Threat to kill two Sudan hostages

Refugee tents in Darfur, March 2009 (image from Medecins Sans Frontieres)
Hundreds of thousands of people need aid in Darfur

The kidnappers of two aid workers in Darfur say they will kill them, unless six French aid employees convicted of abducting children in Chad are retried.

Chad's pardons two years ago for the French aid staff, three months after they were jailed, sparked public anger.

The Aide Medicale Internationale staff, a French and a Canadian woman, were seized in south Darfur a week ago.

The kidnappers have also threatened to target French interests if their demands are not met.

Armed men kidnapped the pair from their compound in South Darfur's capital, Nyala, about 100km (65 miles) from the border with Chad on 4 April.

'Treated well'

The pair have been named as Canadian Stephanie Joidon and her French colleague, Claire Dubois.

If the French government does not respond to our request, we will kill the two aid workers
Kidnapper

One of the kidnappers, who named his group as the Falcons for the Liberation of Africa, told Reuters news agency by telephone: "We demand France open the case of the Zoe's Ark criminals and judge them through a fair court.

"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."

In 2007, six employees of French humanitarian group Zoe's Ark were convicted of trying to fly more than 100 children out of Chad to Europe without authorisation.

The group, who denied the charges, were sentenced to eight years of hard labour by a Chadian court, but were pardoned in March 2008 by Chad's president.

The kidnappers allowed one of their captives to speak to media by satellite telephone on Sunday.

Ms Joidon told AFP news agency: "We are being treated well. We do not know where we are. We wish [our families] much courage. We hope that all ends well."

It was the second kidnapping of aid workers since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant last month for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Four workers with Medecins Sans Frontieres were kidnapped at gunpoint from their Darfur home on 11 March and later released.

Sudan expelled 13 aid agencies immediately after the indictment of Mr Bashir.



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