China urges full efforts to rescue kidnapped nationals

(Xinhua/China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-06 14:36

BEIJING -- China on Saturday demanded its embassy in Nigeria make all out efforts to help secure the release of five kidnapped nationals who were working in Nigeria.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the foreign ministry and China's embassy and consulate in the African country to do everything possible to free the kidnapped telecommunication workers.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said China is actively working with officials in Nigeria to secure the release of the workers.

Five Chinese workers were kidnapped in Nigeria's oil-rich and volatile southern state of Rivers early on Friday morning.

A source in the Chinese embassy in the capital city of Abuja said the victims were from a Chinese telecom company and that armed kidnappers also stole property worth thousands of US dollars.

Li, an official with the consular department, told China Daily that a group of six people were working on an electricity project when they were attacked by the gunmen around 5 am.

One worker managed to hide from the kidnappers and escape.

Li said the Chinese Foreign Ministry and his embassy had launched emergency action to rescue the kidnapped workers.

He said the ambassador and embassy staff, as well as the employer of the kidnapped workers, were in contact with the Nigerian Foreign Ministry, the local government and local police to secure their release.

No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping so far, but Li said the perpetrators were expected to seek a ransom.

Armed robbery and abductions for ransom are common in the oil-producing state of Rivers in Niger Delta.

Li said abductors taking Chinese nationals as hostages tend to seek a ransom rather than pressing political demands.

This is the first abduction of workers from a Chinese enterprise in the region, he said.

Rivers State is located in the oil-rich but troubled Niger Delta where there have been more than 10 kidnappings of foreign workers since the beginning of 2006. This is the first time that Chinese workers have been kidnapped.

The Nigeria government has vowed to do everything it can to free the hostages as soon as possible.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours