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Five South Sudan ex-POWs home from Sudan: ICRC


The Red Cross on Monday flew five former South Sudanese "ex-prisoners of war" home after their release by Sudan, as tensions rise between the two states over a failure to implement security agreements.

"An ICRC delegate accompanied the five men to Juba, where they were handed over to South Sudanese authorities," the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.

A witness told AFP the handover took place earlier Monday at the airport in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state. The five soldiers, seen boarding the Red Cross plane, wore civilian clothes and appeared to be in good health, he said.

Sudan's military announced last week that the prisoners would be freed in a show of "good will."

They were caught in the Kafindebey area, army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad said, quoted in a February 6 report by the official SUNA news agency.

It did not say when the men were captured but the area, on the undemarcated and disputed border, was reportedly the scene of fighting last May, among a series of boundary clashes between Sudan and South Sudan.

"The Sudanese authorities approached the ICRC to facilitate the return home of the ex-prisoners," the Geneva-based agency said, adding that it had visited them to check on their condition during incarceration.

The ICRC also helped to repatriate 13 Sudanese ex-prisoners of war after their release by South Sudan last April, along with 19 South Sudanese freed by Khartoum in September.

The presidents of the two nations in September signed security and economic pacts they hailed as ending conflict.

But those agreements have not been implemented and there have been allegations of new clashes and incursions along the frontier.