Kidnappers of two female aid workers in Sudan’s Darfur region have demanded $2 million for their release, but the government is determined not to pay, a minister said on Tuesday. KIDNAPPERSThe two workers for Irish aid group GOAL were seized by armed men on July 3 from their base in the north Darfur town of Kutum — the third abduction of foreign humanitarian staff in the region in four months.

“The kidnappers are asking for $2 million. But our policy is not to pay ransom. We feel that would encourage others to do the same,” said state minister for humanitarian affairs Abdel Baqi al-Jailani.

The minister said Darfur officials were using local leaders to negotiate with the kidnappers, adding he was still expecting a positive outcome. “Our main priority remains the safety of the two women”

Irish negotiators and government officials have sent teams to Khartoum and El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, to help free the women, named by GOAL as Hilda Kawuki, 42, from Uganda, and Sharon Commins, 32, from Dublin. Two groups of foreign aid workers kidnapped in Darfur earlier this year were released unharmed after a period of negotiation.



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