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Five Chinese hostages reportedly killed in Sudan

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-10-27

A Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ali al-Sadig (pictured), told reporters that kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers had murdered five of the hostages, while two others had escaped. The rebel group was holding two other workers hostage.

KHARTOUM - Kidnappers killed five Chinese oil workers out of nine they had been holding hostage in central Sudan, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"Five were murdered. Two were able to escape with minor injuries," ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig told Reuters.

The kidnappers, who he said were members of the Darfur rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), were still holding two of the workers hostage.

"This was done with direct instructions from the Justice and Equality Movement," Sadig said.

The oil workers were seized in South Kordofan, central Sudan, on Oct. 19, in the third such incident in the region in the past year.

Diplomats, however, have said the kidnappers were probably disaffected local tribesmen from the same group that abducted four Indian oil workers and a Sudanese driver in May.

JEM officials have said they have forces in the area but could not confirm whether they were behind the attack, the third of its kind over the past year in the region, which is the source of a large part of Sudan's oil wealth.

The group seized five oil workers -- an Egyptian, an Iraqi and three Sudanese -- in October 2007 but released them later.

Last week the Sudanese government said security forces had launched an attempt to rescue the Chinese captives. Officials said last Wednesday that they had pinpointed the area where the hostages were being held.

The Chinese hostages were snatched near a small field where they were doing contract work for the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). The company is a consortium led by China's CNPC, that also includes India's ONGC, Malaysia's Petronas and Sudan's state-owned Sudapet.

According to GNPOC's Web site, the consortium produces more than 300,000 barrels of crude per day (bpd) in Sudan's Blocks 1, 2 and 4. Sudan produces about 500,000 bpd of crude and China is the biggest foreign investor in the country.

Date created : 2008-10-27

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