An armed group kidnapped two foreign civilians working for the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur early Saturday morning, a spokesman for the peacekeepers said.

The peacekeeping mission has made contact with the kidnappers, who took the two civilians at about 4:30 a.m. from their home in Zalingei, some 60 miles southeast of the West Darfur capital of al-Geneina, spokesman Noureddine Mezni told The Associated Press.

He did not reveal the names or nationalities of the kidnap victims, pending notification of their families, but said they are "international staffers."

Mezni declined to provide any details about the kidnappers, only referring to them as an "armed group."

The head of the peacekeeping mission, Rodolphe Adada, appealed to the kidnappers to release the two victims, according to Mezni.

"We are hear to protect civilians. We are not part of the conflict," Mezni quoted Adada as saying.

The Darfur conflict started in 2003 when mostly ethnic African rebels took up arms against the government, complaining of neglect and discrimination. Khartoum is accused of unleashing Arab militias, who have waged a campaign of violence against civilians, including killings and rapes.

U.N. officials estimate up to 300,000 people have died and about 2.7 million have been displaced since the conflict in western Sudan started.