AMMAN: Jordan said on Sunday it was trying to secure the release of two nationals deployed with the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID), abducted at gunpoint in Sudan’s Darfur region.
"Two (Jordanian) general security officers who are participating in the UN mission in Darfur were abducted by armed men at 7:00 am on Saturday," said Jordanian Information Minister Ali Ayed, quoted by the state-run Petra news agency.
"According to the information available, the two officers are unharmed," the minister said, adding that four Jordanians in total are working for UNAMID.
"Before the officers had begun their humanitarian mission, the armed group was able to capture two of them" and took the vehicle in which they were traveling, Ayed said.
"Jordan will continue its efforts to secure their release and safe return," in cooperation with the UN mission in Sudan, he added.
The two officers were seized on Saturday in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state, UNAMID had said in an earlier statement, without giving the nationalities of the two men.
A security source in Jordan identified the two as first lieutenants Ahmad Qeisi and Nabil Kilani.
"We have contacted the two officers and they are eating well and in good health. We have also informed their families of their situation," the source told AFP.
"The kidnappers told us that they have no problem with the Jordanian officers and that what happened was because the abductors want the United Nations to meet their demands," he said without elaborating.
Qeisi and Kilani were in a UN car along with two Jordanian officers when three gunmen stopped them, forcing the other two passengers to leave, he said.
"The gunmen then commandeered the vehicle, speeding off to Jabal Murra, 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from the headquarters," the source added, adding that none of the UNAMID police were armed.
UNAMID on Saturday said the two officers were abducted by three gunmen in a 4×4 vehicle as they were walking towards a transport dispatch point.
It was the third time since August 2009 that UNAMID has been the target of abduction in the volatile region of Darfur.
In April four South African peacekeepers were abducted in Darfur, and two other members of UNAMID were seized in August last year. All of them were freed unharmed.
Darfur has been gripped by civil war since 2003 that has left 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced, according to the United Nations.
Khartoum says 10,000 have been killed in the conflict.
The vast western Sudanese region has seen a wave of kidnappings of foreign aid workers since March 2009 when the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Saturday’s kidnappings bring the number of foreigners seized there since March 2009 to 19, including 10 Westerners.
All were subsequently released except an American aid worker with the Samaritan’s Purse group who was abducted in May. She is still being held by her kidnappers who have demanded a ransom before she is freed.