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Aid worker freed in Darfur

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • A Samaritan's Purse employee is released after 105 days in captivity
  • She is "exhausted but in good health," the Christian aid group says
  • Three Russians were seized in the same area on Sunday

(CNN) -- An aid worker with Samaritan's Purse, a Christian aid organization, has been freed after 105 days in captivity in the Darfur region of western Sudan, a spokeswoman for the organization said Monday.

Flavia Wagner, 35, is "exhausted but in good health," the group said in a statement.

News of the release came as three Russian pilots working for a Sudanese aviation company were abducted in the same region.

The pilots were taken Sunday in Nyala, South Darfur's capital, said Chris Cycmanick, spokesman for the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur.

Twelve people have been abducted in Darfur this year, Cycmanick said, including Wagner.

She was kidnapped May 18, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said a day later. Two Sudanese colleagues were seized at the same time, Samaritan's Purse said then.

The abduction took place about 25 miles southwest of Nyala.

The two Sudanese men were released May 25, Samaritan's Purse said.

Samaritans's Purse, founded by evangelist Franklin Graham, said it has provided $83.7 million in assistance to Sudan since 2001.

The group has 548 national and expatriate staff in Sudan, it says, adding that it "provides immediate response to the physical and spiritual needs of individuals in crisis situations."

Darfur has been beset by conflict since 2003 after rebels began an uprising against the Sudanese government.

To counter the rebels, Arab militias with ties to the Sudanese government went from village to village in Darfur, killing, torturing and raping residents there, according to the United Nations, Western governments and human rights organizations. The militias targeted civilian members of tribes from which the rebels drew strength.

The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Darfur, and 2.5 million have fled their homes. Sudan denies the death toll is that high.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity -- charges he denies.

CNN's Alden Mahler Levine contributed to this report.