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South Sudan aid group says detained workers released

Riek Machar and Salva Kiir ® have been fighting over South Sudan on and off for years.     EPA  Phillip Dhil

South Sudanese staffers with the US -based aid group Samaritan's Purse have been freed a day after being detained by "armed personnel", the organization said Tuesday.

"Therefore, six local aid workers working for Samaritan's Purse including other civilians were safely recovered by our gallant forces", he said. "They have demanded that the organization takes aid to them".

"We have been in contact with them and they have not been harmed".

Samaritan Purse acknowledged the kidnapping, which comes only days after rebels kidnapped two Indian engineers working for an oil company.

JUBA Eight local staff with a US aid group in South Sudan were released safely on Tuesday after being detained by armed men, the agency said, calming fears that such workers could become a new target in the famine-hit nation's civil war.

The information minister of Southern Liech, Peter Makuoth Malual on Monday said the SPLA-IO rebels abducted six local aid workers inside the United Nations base after launching an attack on Mayendit town.

"These aid workers are supporting the community and these communities are in liberated areas".

"Samaritan's Purse calls on all parties to stop hostilities and allow immediate full access to distribute emergency food supplies", the group said. About 100,000 people are said to be at risk, and aid groups are pleading for access.

Isaacs said the incident points to the gravity of the situation in a country where years of violent conflicts have prevented farmers from planting and growing crops that could end the starvation faced by some 4 million people.

Oil-rich South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, has been mired in civil war since President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, sacked his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, in 2013.

Ken Isaacs from Samaritan's Purse said the seven workers released Tuesday are in good condition and have been moved to a more secure area. "The IGAD should ensure the safety and unconditional release of the oil workers", says a statement obtained by the Sudan Tribune on March 13 states.