Sudan steps up hunt for kidnapped Hungarian in Darfur
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese police set up roadblocks in North Darfur's capital El Fasher on Friday as they stepped up the hunt for a kidnapped Hungarian peacekeeper seized from his home in the city, aid workers and officials said.
The civilian member of Darfur's joint U.N./African Union peacekeeping force UNAMID was abducted by armed men on Thursday evening, hours after the arrival of a delegation of envoys from the U.N. Security Council in the city.
The attackers, armed with a machine gun and a pistol, forced their way into his compound then tied up and beat five peacekeepers and U.N. staff inside, U.N. sources told Reuters.
They later drove off with three of the men, two in the back seat and one on the trunk, said UNAMID spokesman Kemal Saiki.
The two in the back seat managed to escape, leaving one man with the kidnappers in the stolen UNAMID vehicle, said Saiki. The vehicle was later found abandoned he added. UNAMID earlier said only two men were initially seized.
"The search is going on. Police have sent out patrols, set up checkpoints, and started inspecting vehicles," he added.
It is thought to be the first time kidnappers have targeted foreigners in El Fasher, used as a headquarters for UNAMID, which is supposed to keep the peace in an arid region about the size of Spain, seven years into a festering conflict.
The development will dismay aid officials in Darfur who have pulled staff back to the main towns to escape a wave of abductions in remote locations.
The Hungarian government confirmed one of its citizens had been kidnapped.
"We have contacted the local authorities there, but I would not like to say anything more at this stage, as this is a difficult and complicated issue," spokeswoman Anna Nagy told Reuters in Budapest.
Britain's ambassador to the United Nations told reporters in El Fasher he was very concerned about the kidnapping but he did not think it was linked to the Security Council visit.