Two aid workers who were kidnapped in Sudan’s Darfur region more than three months ago have said they are “thrilled” to be released. DARFUR AID

Irish citizen Sharon Commins, 32, and her Ugandan colleague Hilda Kawuki, 42, were working for the Irish charity Goal when seized by gunmen in Kutum in July.

The Sudanese government confirmed the pair were freed early Sunday morning.

The women described their ordeal as a “difficult time” and thanked all those who had worked to secure their release.

In a joint statement released through the GOAL charity, the women said they were “naturally thrilled to be released after such a long period in captivity”.

“We know it must have been a traumatic period for our families especially and for our friends,” they said.

“It was of course, a difficult time – but we found strength in each other and in our friendship.”

They added that they could “hardly wait to get home” to spend time with their families.

Sudan’s state Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Abdel Baqi al-Jailani, stressed that “no ransom was paid,” and said local tribe leaders had put pressure on the kidnappers to release the workers.

Reports earlier in the year had suggested the kidnappers made a $2m ransom demand in return for their safe release.

The Sudanese government said the kidnappers were bandits who would not be granted an amnesty for releasing the aid workers, the BBC’s James Copnall in Khartoum said.

The two women have spent the longest time in captivity of any foreigners in Darfur, our correspondent added.

They were taken hostage at gunpoint at an aid compound in Kutum on 3 July.

Speaking in Dublin, Ms Commin’s mother Agatha said she was “absolutely overjoyed” at the news of her daughter’s release.



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