April 8, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The British embassy in Khartoum updated its travel advisory on Monday after its Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) received reports that a terrorist group is planning to target westerners in Khartoum for kidnapping.
- British embassy in Khartoum (Ibtimes)
In a brief one-line email advisory to its nationals registered in the Sudanese capital, the embassy said its travel warning had been updated to include the new information.
“The FCO believes terrorists are planning to kidnap westerners in Sudan, probably in Khartoum”, it said.
At a briefing at the embassy on Monday, a security official said the terrorist group is targeting westerners for political reasons, rather than for economic gains.
The officer said this was a particularly significant development, in that anyone kidnapped will be at a greater risk of harm, as the group’s primary objective will be to leverage political concessions rather than obtaining a monetary payment.
The embassy did not divulge any further details about the group involved or the nature of the kidnapping threat.
While the embassy has updated its travel warning to reflect the new security developments, it has not upgraded its overall advice for Sudan.
The FCO says there remains a general threat of kidnapping throughout Sudan, with westerners, including NGO workers and peace keepers, previously the target of kidnaps in Darfur and the border areas of Chad and the Central African Republic.
In 2012, Sudanese security forces raided a training camp of extremists in the Dinder National Park in south-east Sudan, who authorities said had been planning to launch attacks on senior government officials, western diplomatic missions and international troops in Khartoum.
Last May, a British aid worker, who was employed by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Khartoum, was freed after being held hostage for almost three months in South Darfur.
Patrick Noonan, from Northern Ireland, was kidnapped on 6 March by armed bandits operating around Nyala, where he had been working for two years.
South Darfur authorities alongside British hostage release experts drafted in by the British embassy in Khartoum, as well as a team of United Nations specialists negotiated his release. No ransom was paid.
Khartoum, which is home to an established expat community, is considered relatively safe in comparison to other African cities, with serious crimes against foreigners rare.