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UN: 20 peacekeepers held in South Sudan are free

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16 UN peacekeepers have been detained in South Sudan

16 UN peacekeepers have been detained in South Sudan

16 UN peacekeepers have been detained in South Sudan

All 20 United Nations peacekeepers held by rebels in South Sudan have been released, the UN has confirmed.

However, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the rebels are still holding 12 of the organisation's contractors.

He said a UN barge carrying fuel was travelling on the Nile river north of Malakal on October 26 when it was blocked in Kaka by more than 100 heavily armed men affiliated with the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

They detained the peacekeepers and crew, Mr Dujarric said, adding that the fuel was looted.

He said the UN mission is calling on rebel leader Riek Machar to immediately release the South Sudanese crew "unharmed and unhurt" and return the barge and weapons and equipment belonging to the peacekeepers.

He stressed that attacks on peacekeepers and other UN staff can constitute war crimes.

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