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Rebels release 49 peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region

(Xinhua)

08:53, February 21, 2012

KHARTOUM, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Sudan's Darfur region said on Monday it has released 49 members of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) it held earlier.

"Forty-nine UNAMID soldiers have been released, but three Sudanese who were with them are still held. We will investigate them to know if they belong to the Sudanese intelligence and security service or not," Jibril Adam Ibrahim, a JEM spokesman, told Xinhua by phone.

The JEM said earlier it was holding 52 UNAMID soldiers in Sudan 's western region of Darfur.

The JEM spokesman told Xinhua earlier that they held the UNAMID personnel because they entered the movement's territories without permission.

"The held members of UNAMID include 46 Senegalese, a Yemeni, a Rwandan, a Ghananian and three Sudanese, who we believe work for the Sudanese intelligence and security service," he added.

He stressed that all the UNAMID held personnel were fine and at a safe place.

"They have been held at a safe place and they are fine. We are waiting for a justification from the mission on why this force moved into the movement's areas," he said.

"This incident came only a few days after the movement has asked for the signing of an agreement between it and the UNAMID to facilitate the work of the mission in Darfur, but Ibrahim Gambari, the chief of UNAMID, refused to do so," he noted.

The UNAMID, deployed in Darfur since 2008, has encountered repeated attacks by unidentified gunmen in the region which resulted in the death of more than 34 of its soldiers.

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