South African firm says workers freed by kidnappers in Guinea-Bissau

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 13, 2013 11:24 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African defense group Denel confirmed on Saturday that the last nine of 12 of its staff kidnapped in Guinea-Bissau two months ago had been freed.

The Senegalese demining workers were part of a group snatched by a faction of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance on May 4. The rebels released three women in the group later that month, keeping the men prisoner.

"Denel welcomes the release of nine employees from the DLS-Mechem division of the company who were taken hostage in southern Senegal in early May," it said in a statement.

"No ransom was paid for the release of the employees."

Senegal's state news agency APS reported on Friday that the hostages had been handed over to a Guinea Bissau-based non-governmental organization and would be transferred to Senegalese officials at the border on Saturday.

The rebels have waged a low-level insurgency for independence in Senegal's southern Casamance region, bordering Guinea-Bissau, for three decades. Banditry and drug trafficking are also common in the isolated region.

(Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by Andrew Roche)