Red Cross: Darfur Rebels Free 31 Civilians

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A rebel faction in Sudan's Darfur region on Saturday freed a group of 31 displaced people they had abducted "by mistake" a week earlier, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

"Thirty-one civilians were released today by the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW) in Darfur, Sudan," a statement said.

A convoy of buses carrying internally displaced Sudanese to a conference under escort from the hybrid United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur was stopped by rebels on March 24.

The heavily armed rebels took their captives away to an undisclosed location but their leader then said the attack was a mistake and promised the group would be released immediately.

Abdel Wahid Mohammed al-Nur, who heads the faction, told Agence France Presse on Monday night that his forces had seized the 31 in error.

"One of the commanders made a big mistake," he said. "I gave (an) order to release these people, civilians, immediately."

He has not been reachable since then.

The case highlights security problems faced by 1.4 million Darfuris uprooted by the region's decade-old conflict, and whose future was under discussion at the conference, in Nyala, South Darfur, which ended on Tuesday.

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