NEW YORK – Two civilian members of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur who were held hostage for more than 100 days have been released, the U.N. said Sunday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office released a statement saying he was “deeply gratified” to learn of the development.
The two staffers, a man and a woman, were taken at gunpoint in West Darfur on Aug. 29. The abductors have not been publicly identified.
The United Nations has been involved in delicate diplomacy to get cooperation on the issue from Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader in March on charges of orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
But a week ago, Ban called al-Bashir “on humanitarian grounds” to seek help in freeing the two hostages, one of whom was said by the U.N. to be gravely ill.
Dubai secures loan from Abu Dhabi
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai’s government said it has received $10 billion in emergency funds from oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi that will go toward paying debts owed by its struggling Dubai World conglomerate.
Some $4.1 billion of the money will be used to pay off a pile of debt from Dubai World’s Nakheel property division that comes due today.
Dubai’s ability to repay those funds had been seen as a key test of the debt-laden emirate’s creditworthiness.
The UAE central bank, based in the federation’s capital Abu Dhabi, also says it is prepared to provide support to local banks.
Arms smugglers’ detention ordered
BANGKOK – Police said a court in Thailand has approved a 12-day detention for the crew of a seized plane carrying 35 tons of weapons from North Korea.
The crew includes four men from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus. They were arrested Saturday when their plane was impounded in Bangkok during a reported refueling stop. Investigators found 35 tons of war weaponry apparently loaded in North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions.
Muslim rebels deny role in jailbreak
MANILA, Philippines – Muslim rebels who have resumed peace talks with the Philippine government said today they were not behind a deadly jailbreak in the country’s volatile south that freed 31 criminals and guerrillas, including militants accused of beheadings.
About 70 attackers used a sledgehammer and bolt cutters Sunday to punch a hole in the provincial Basilan jail and spring 31 people, including alleged hard-core members of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group, officials said.
A guard and one of the attackers were killed.
Among those who escaped were five members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main separatist group negotiating an autonomy for minority Muslims, and 12 from the smaller but more violent Abu Sayyaf, notorious for kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, said a regional military official.
Eid Kabalu, spokesman for the Moro group, said the rebels were not involved in the beheadings or Sunday’s jailbreak. The Moro rebels and the Abu Sayyaf have little contact, but the military says they sometimes cooperate on Basilan because some family and clan members end up on both sides.