Two French aid workers kidnapped in the Central African Republic last year were freed in Sudan’s Darfur region yesterday, after more than 100 days in captivity.
Olivier Denis and Olivier Frappe were seized in the town of Birao on the border with Chad and Sudan on November 22, while working for the French aid organisation Triangle.
“We were scared but now it’s finished,” Denis told reporters after a medical check in Khartoum. “We were not mistreated. We were lucky because there were two of us.”
Both men bearded and looking tired and thin, thanked those who worked tirelessly to release them.
“I didn’t realise and I still don’t realise what is happening,” said Frappe. “I just know that many times I was thinking that they would kill me so now I’m safe here in Khartoum and I will be tomorrow safe in Paris with my family and that’s the most important thing for me.”
A group calling itself the African Free Eagles claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and that of another Frenchman, and threatened to kill them all unless French authorities began direct negotiations with them. The third aid worker was released last month.
The African Free Eagles said it was composed of young African men disgusted with French policy in the continent and who wanted Paris to work in the interests of the African people.
Several French citizens are still being held hostage by various groups around the world, including two journalists in Afghanistan, who are believed to be in the hands of the Taliban.
“I hope that other compatriots held hostage elsewhere in the world are rapidly freed.
We will not spare any effort to bring this about,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statement.