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Red Cross worker abducted in Chad now free

  • French aid worker Laurent Maurice freed three months after abduction
  • Agronomist worked in Chad 10 months evaluating harvests
  • He was kidnapped while working with a team of Chadian colleagues, ICRC says
  • Second French aid worker kidnapped in October yet to be released
  • Chad
  • Sudan
  • Darfur

(CNN) -- A French aid worker was freed Saturday nearly three months after his abduction near Chad's border with Sudan, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Laurent Maurice "is tired but appears to be in good health," the organization said in a statement.

ICRC spokeswoman Carla Haddad Mardini would not elaborate on the circumstances of Maurice's release, only saying that the group did not pay a ransom and Sudanese authorities helped.

"It's very difficult to know the reasons why he was kidnapped," Mardini said in an interview from the ICRC office in Geneva, Switzerland. "We work in difficult areas."

Maurice, 37, was released in al Junaynah in west Darfur, Sudan, and is on his way to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Mardini said.

The group provides humanitarian assistance in many areas shaken by violence, including Sudan. An estimated 300,000 people have died and at least 2.5 million displaced in Sudan's Darfur region, where government forces and their Arab Janjaweed militia allies have battled rebels since 2003, according to the United Nations. More than 240,000 resettled in neighboring Chad, where violence in the east erupted and 180,000 Chadians were displaced.

Several armed men abducted Maurice on November 9 from Kawa, a village in eastern Chad near the border with Sudan where the aid group is supporting a primary health care center. Maurice, an agronomist, had worked in Chad for 10 months to evaluate the most recent harvests, the organization said. He was kidnapped in the evening while working with a team of Chadian colleagues, Mardini said.

Another French aid worker kidnapped in October has yet to be released, the group said Saturday. Gauthier Lefevre was taken by several armed men near the town of Al Geneina in West Darfur, along the border with Chad.

"This is a great relief for us," Mardini said about Maurice's release. "We hope the second one will be released, too."