Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

UN, Norwegian Peoples Aid and Mechem South African Demining Workers abducted/arrested in South Sudan

Sudan arrests foreigners in disputed border region  April 29, 2012

John Sorbo, mine clearing expert working for the Norwegian People's Aid organization, one of the three foreigners arrested in the disputed Heglig border area, exits a plane in Khartoum. (REUTERS)

Sudan said it had arrested a Briton, a Norwegian and a South African on Saturday, accusing them of illegally entering a disputed oil-producing border area to spy for its enemy South Sudan.

South Sudanese officials denied the allegations and said the men were working with the United Nations and aid groups clearing mines and had got lost in the remote territory close to the boundary between the two countries.

Sudanese army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled said the three were arrested in Heglig – the scene of recent fighting between Sudan and South Sudan – travelling with a South Sudanese soldier in vehicles carrying military equipment.

“It is now confirmed without any doubt that South Sudan used the help of foreigners in their attack on Heglig. These foreigners were doing military work such as spying out the areas … They had military equipment … They have a military background,” Sawarmi said.

The group had been flown to Khartoum, he added.

A Reuters witness saw four men arriving on a civilian plane at Khartoum’s military airport.

One of the men, a Westerner, was wearing a t-shirt marked with the slogan “Norwegian People’s Aid. Mine Action South Africa”. Reporters were not allowed to talk to the men who were swiftly driven away in an unmarked white van.

Agency France Presse Canada  April 29, 2012

KHARTOUM – A South African demining company on Sunday said two of its workers were abducted by the Sudanese military while on a UN landmine clearance contract in South Sudan.

Ashley Williams, CEO of state-owned Mechem, said its employees, a South African and a local South Sudanese, were abducted with a British UN employee and a Norwegian.

Williams rejected suggestions by the Sudanese army spokesman that the men were working in support of South Sudan in its “aggression” against the north.

“It’s humanitarian work so the story of them being military advisers and this type of thing is completely and utterly nonsense and not true,” said Williams.

“We are doing humanitarian landmine clearance on a UN contract and our members have full UN immunity. The abduction took place well within South Sudan territory,” he told AFP, saying the group were travelling south between two UN bases.

“Then they grabbed them and drove back to Heglig with them where they then said they’ve arrested them in this disputed area while they weren’t there at all.”

A team remained in the area, which the United Nations would bring out with protection over fears of similar action, Williams said.

Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad on Saturday said the group were captured within Sudan’s borders in the tense Heglig oil area.

“This confirms what we said before, that South Sudan in its aggression against Heglig was supported by foreign experts,” he told reporters after the four were flown to the capital Khartoum.

“We captured them inside Sudan’s borders, in the Heglig area, and they were collecting war debris for investigation,” Saad said.

He added that all four had military backgrounds, and were accompanied by military equipment and a military vehicle. He did not elaborate.

In the most serious fighting since the South’s independence, Juba’s troops occupied Sudan’s main oil region of Heglig for 10 days, a move which coincided with Sudanese air strikes against the South.

Sudan declared on April 20 that its troops had forced the Southern soldiers out of Heglig, but the South said it withdrew of its own accord.

Jan Ledang, country director for the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) mission in South Sudan, identified one of the captives as its employee John Sorbo.

“It’s impossible that they were in Heglig – they were in Pariang” about a 90-minute drive from Heglig in the South’s Unity state, Ledang said.

They were doing follow-up demining work in the area, he added.

The four were on a de-mining mission “and one of them was from the UN”, said Josephine Guerrero, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan

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April 29, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Contractors Kidnapped, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Landmines, Legal Jurisdictions, Mine Clearance, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

29 Chinese Workers Captured in Sudan

China Digital Times  January 29, 2012

Sudanese claimed on Sunday that they abducted 29 Chinese road workers after a battle between the rebels and the Sudanese army, though the army claims the rebels attacked the workers’ compound. From Reuters:

The army has been fighting rebels of the SPLM-N in South Kordofan bordering newly independent South since June. Fighting spread to the northern Blue Nile state in September.

“We are holding 29 Chinese workers after a battle with the army yesterday,” a spokesman for the SPLM-N said. “They are in good health. We are holding them for their own safety because the army was trying to strike again.”

The army said rebels had attacked the compound of a Chinese construction company operating in the area between the towns of Abbasiya and Rashad in the north of the state and captured 70 civilians.

“Most of them are Chinese. They (the rebels) are targeting civilians,” said army spokesman Sawarmi Khalid Saad.

Chinese state media reported on Monday that all contact had been lost with the workers, while Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party condemned the attack and a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry confirmed that the two sides had begun emergency procedures. , the employer of the abducted Chinese nationals, told Xinhua News that it had launched its own emergency response:

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Father running to raise money in memory of Iraq tragedy son

A worker at Shropshire-based wine merchants Tanners whose son was kidnapped and executed in Iraq is preparing to run the London Marathon this weekend in his memory.


Shropshire Star April 15, 2011

Alec Maclachlan was killed in the war-torn country following a lengthy abduction. The 30-year-old was working as a security guard when he was abducted along with four other Britons by Shi’ite militants in a raid on Iraq’s finance ministry in 2007.

His body was handed over to British authorities in 2009.

Now, Alec’s father Colin Maclachlan, who is business development manager for Tanners Wines in the Mid Wales area, is preparing for the gruelling 26.2 mile event this weekend to ensure his son’s memory lives on.

He is raising cash for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, a national organisation which supports soldiers, former soldiers and their families in times of need.

Colin, who is in his 60s, was due to be joined by his other son Ross, 34, but the soldier has been called out at short notice to serve in Afghanistan.

“I have done a few half marathons before but never a full marathon,” said Colin.

“I am doing this because Alec had his best times in the Army. He had served in Iraq and wanted to go back and rebuild the country. The very people he was trying to help are the ones who killed him which I find so sad.”

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon Identifies Contractor Missing in Iraq: Issa T Salomi

UPDATE:   March 27, 2010

US Says Missing Contractor in Iraq, Issa Salomi, returned

BAGHDAD — A Shiite militant group in Iraq has posted an Internet video showing an American it says it abducted and who appears to be a contractor reported missing by the U.S. military.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Friday that American contractor Issa T. Salomi, 60, went missing Jan. 23 in Baghdad and that search and recovery efforts were under way, but it released no other details. The U.S. military in Baghdad on Saturday confirmed Salomi is missing but would not provide additional information.

In the video, the man – who did not identify himself – says his abductors from the League of the Righteous are demanding the release of militants and the prosecution of Blackwater security contractors accused of killing 17 Iraqis in 2007 in Baghdad.

“The second demand is to bring the proper justice and the proper punishment to those members of Blackwater company that have committed unjustifiable crimes against innocent Iraqi civilians,” the man said. “And to bring justice by proper compensation to the families that have been involved in great suffering because of this incident.”

Blackwater security contractors were protecting U.S. diplomats when the guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad intersection, on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen people were killed, including women and children, in a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

There was no way to verify the authenticity of the video, but a high-ranking Iraqi defense official told The Associated Press that Salomi was abducted by the militant group in the central Baghdad district of Karradah. The official said Salomi is of Iraqi origin and that his abductors lured him to Karradah under the pretense of visiting distant relatives.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

“We obviously hope for his safe return,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. “We aren’t certain of the circumstances under which he disappeared.”

The Department of Defense said the missing contractor is from El Cajon, California.

Salomi’s family issued a statement, released through the FBI in San Diego, saying they were hoping for his safe return. The statement did not say whether Salomi was believed abducted.

“We are confident that everything is being done by the most capable people here and abroad to bring Issa home safely, and we all are anxiously awaiting his safe return,” the statement said.

The man in the video is seated in a chair and wearing what looks like a U.S. military uniform. Behind him is the black banner of the militant group, also known by its Arabic name, Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

He says his captors were also demanding the immediate withdrawal of the U.S. military from Iraq.

The militant group’s Web site claimed the man in the video is an American officer.

The same group was believed to be behind the kidnapping of British computer consultant Peter Moore in May 2007 along with his four British bodyguards. Moore was handed over to Iraqi authorities in late December. Three of the bodyguards were killed and the fourth is believed dead.

The British government has said no deals were struck for Moore’s release, though it coincided with the transfer of the head of the militant group from U.S. to Iraqi custody.

Qais al-Khazali, along with his brother, were accused of organizing an attack on a local government headquarters in the city of Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers on Jan. 20, 2007.

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment