U.N. hostages released after a month

Dec. 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The United Nations says three Latvian helicopter crewmen working in Darfur for the agency's humanitarian air service have been freed after a month in captivity.

The three men who were seized by Sudanese gunman Nov. 4, pilot Artjoms Nalbandjans, co-pilot Janis Gindra and mechanic Kaspars Reihlers, were released Wednesday and are expected to be routed through Khartoum on their way home, a U.N. release said.

The crew was part of the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service managed by the World Food Program, which worked closely with the government of Sudan to secure their release.

"We are so grateful that these three men have been freed and our thoughts are with their families in Latvia who will be reunited with them in the coming days," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. "Now we can all celebrate their freedom."

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