Samaritan's Purse: 2 US aid workers attacked, beaten in Southern Sudanese region

CAIRO, Egypt
March 11, 2008 (AP)

Two U.S. aid workers, a husband and wife team of the U.S.-based Samaritan's Purse ministry were attacked and beaten in a southern Sudanese region, the organization said Tuesday.

A press statement from the Boone, North Carolina, ministry which carries out aid work in Africa, including in Sudan where it has dozens of international field staff, called the incident "alarming."

The two aid workers were attacked March 7 and "viciously beaten by a mob" in the remote Julud area in Sudan's South Kordofan region, the statement said.

A small plane was able to evacuate them to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, where the pair were now recovering, Samaritan's Purse spokesman Tom Layton told The Associated Press by telephone from the United States.

"Their injuries are not life-threatening," Layton said.

The two-decade war between southern, ethnic African rebels and the Arab-dominated Islamic government in Khartoum, to the north, killed over 2 million people. It also drove some 4 million others from their homes and devastated the region populated by mainly Christian and animist southerners who don't speak Arabic or abide by Islamic law.

This war, separate from the one in Darfur in western Sudan, ended in a 2005 peace deal which set up an autonomous southern government, led by the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Samaritan's Purse said it believed the attack was "an isolated incident not directly related to the persecution of Christians in Sudan."

The ministry suspended work in the Julud community following the attack but said all its other aid projects were continuing in Sudan despite increased concern for the well-being of its staff.

The ministry's work mostly includes distributing food, providing medical care, rehabilitating farms and schools, and rebuilding churches destroyed during the decades-long Sudanese civil war.

Layton said the information about the attack was still "sketchy."

He said that he did not know details about the number of attackers or their motivation, but said southern Sudanese authorities have detained a "number of persons" in connection with the incident.

Samaritan's Purse has not released the names of the two attacked aid workers.

Authorities in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba had no information about the attack.


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