Kidnapped Indian freed in Sudan, will be home soon (LEAD)

July 25th, 2008 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) An Indian kidnapped in Sudan over two months ago was released Friday morning, India’s ambassador to Sudan Deepak Vohra said. “I am happy to say that P.K. Abhilash has been released by his captors along with a Sudanese driver. The release was early this morning,” Vohra told IANS on phone from Khartoum.

“He is likely to come to Khartoum Saturday-Sunday. We shall process his exit visa for his return to India,” the Indian envoy added.

Biplab Biswas, the fourth Indian national who was kindpped, remains missing since May 30, Vohra said.

The news of Abhilash’s release was greeted with a sigh of relief here.

“Our ambassador in Khartoum is in touch with Mr Abhilash, who deserves to be complimented for his courage amidst his ordeal lasting more than 74 days,” Minister for Overseas Indian Affair Vylar Ravi said in a statement here.

The “continuous follow-up on the safety of P.K. Abilash has borne fruit,” he said, adding that Abhilash was in “sound health” and will soon come back to India.

The minister credited the “team effort” of the governments of India and Sudan, and Abhilash’s employer, Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, for the release.

“The safety and security of overseas Indians, as they serve in challenging environments, has been an important priority of my ministry,” he said.

Abhilash, three other Indians and their Sudanese driver had been kidnapped on May 13 while they were returning from the Neem oil field to Heglig in Sudan.

They were working for Petro Energy, which provides services to the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC).

The two of them had managed to escape from custody last month. Biswas still remains untraced.

India’s flagship overseas oil exploration company ONGC Videsh has invested over $1 billion in GNPOC - the largest Indian investment in Africa.

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