Source AP ©

At least 74 children kidnapped in Chad flown to France

Chad will investigate reports at least 74 Chadian children were flown to France more than a month and a half ago without their parents' knowledge, a senior judicial official said Thursday.

A network of local human rights groups wrote to the public prosecutor's department with details about the 74 children flown to a military airport outside Paris on Sept. 17, from Chad, said Masngarel Kagah of the public prosecutor's department.

Kagah said that it is not clear who flew the children out of Chad, adding it may not be Zoe's Ark. Six French Zoe's Ark workers have been charged in Chad with kidnapping for seeking to send 103 other children they claimed were orphans from war-wracked Darfur on a plane to France. They face up to 20 years at hard labor if convicted.

The 74 children cited by the local human rights groups "have effectively been kidnapped. They landed at this military airport to go to an unknown destination," Kagah told The Associated Press.

Kagah, who received the letter dated Tuesday and an accompanying document, told The Associated Press he will write to the public prosecutor, forwarding the documents and initiating an investigation.

Kagah said that the Network of Human Rights Associations in Chad gathered the information after several parents went to inform the organization their children were missing.

The children are aged between one and six, according to the letter that Kagah read to The Associated Press. The accompanying document lists 74 names, Kagah said.

"We do not know how many children were transported in such conditions," Kagah told The Associated Press, referring to the possibility that others may also already be in France.

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