A Swiss humanitarian aid worker has been kidnapped in Darfur, where government forces and rebels have clashed for more than a decade.
The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed it was aware of the abduction, but did not provide further details about the aid worker.
"Local representation is in contact with Sudanese authorities. Efforts to clarify the situation are in progress. Switzerland is calling for a rapid and unconditional release of the abducted person," it said in a statement.
Swiss media reported the aid worker was working with a non-governmental organization.
The UN's top aid official in Sudan, Marta Ruedas confirmed the abduction to AFP saying the Swiss national had lived in Sudan for many years and was "abducted by unidentified armed perpetrators near her residence in the Agricultural Research Centre area of El Fashir late last evening," Saturday. While not a UN staff member, the worker had collaborated with the UN on a number of initiatives.
There has been no official statement from the government in Khartoum.
UN reduces troop numbers
The kidnapping came weeks after the United Nations began reducing the number of peacekeepers in Darfur due to what it said was reduced violence in the region.
Aid workers often rely on UN troops for protection when moving around Darfur.
More than 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since conflict erupted between rebels and the government in 2003.
On Sunday, state media reported that the government had extended for three months a unilateral ceasefire in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
The announcement came two days after the United States lifted a two decades-old trade embargo on the regime in Khartoum over its support for Islamist terrorist groups.
The United States also cited progress resolving conflicts and allowing humanitarian aid into Darfur and other restive regions.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir still faces an international arrest warrant on charges of genocide in Darfur.
cw/jm (AFP, Reuters)