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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reporters Purchase Children To Expose Sudan's Slave Trade

BALTIMORE -- Two reporters for The Baltimore Sun newspaper said they paid $1,000 for two brothers who were abducted from their home in southern Sudan and forced to work in the fields as slaves for six years.

Garang Deng Kuot, 10, and Akok Deng Kuot, 12, were returned to their father, Deng Kuot Mayen, by the reporters who ventured into the war-torn region of the African nation to expose child slavery, the newspaper reported Monday.

"I call on Almighty God to love all my children and let them remain happy,'' the boys' father, a poor farmer, said jubilantly.

The brothers, seized during a 1990 raid by a government-backed Arab militia, told the reporters horrible stories of their ordeal.

"I was given to a very bad man,'' Garang said. "He always made me do difficult things like carrying away hot ashes. Sometimes he would curse me. Sometimes I was beaten. No person in the family was kind or good.''

Akok, who was 6 when he was kidnapped, said all he could remember of his abduction was being lifted and tied across the back of a horse. He said he was forced to keep a fence in the cattle camp clean and clear away manure, the paper reported in a three-part series concluding Tuesday.

The reporters, Gilbert Lewthwaite and Gregory Kane, entered southern Sudan illegally with the help of Christian Solidarity International, a Zurich-based humanitarian group.

The two children were purchased for a set fee of $500 each -- the cash equivalent of five cows in Sudan -- from an Arab trader in Manyiel, a remote village in the southern Sudanese province of Bahr el Ghazal. The trader is in the business of obtaining the freedom of slaves, the paper said.

Last November, the United Nations reported "an alarming increase ... in cases of slavery, servitude, slave trade and forced labor'' in Africa's largest country and accused the government of not investigating the human rights abuses.