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Published: Friday May 16, 2014 MYT 5:35:02 AM
Updated: Friday May 16, 2014 MYT 5:36:07 AM

Five MSF staff freed after being held months by kidnappers in Syria

PARIS (Reuters) - Five staff members of the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have been freed after being kidnapped in northwestern Syria in early January by an armed group, the aid group said in a statement on Thursday.

MSF, known for sending doctors to conflict zones, said that for security reasons it had closed a hospital and two medical centres in The Jabal Akkrad area in Syria's northwestern Latakia province.

"The reduction of humanitarian aid is a direct consequence of the kidnapping of aid workers," MSF said in the statement, adding that approximately 150,000 people in the wartorn area had been deprived of its help.

MSF did not specify the nationalities of the kidnapped staff, their jobs, or how they had been released. MSF said three were freed on April 4 and two on May 14, who are now on their way to meet relatives. All are physically well, MSF said.

Syria's civil war has left more than 150,000 dead.

A United Nations document said in November that 12 U.N. staff and 32 staff or volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had been killed since March 2011, when the crisis started, and 21 U.N. staff were in detention.

(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; editing by Andrew Roche)

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