Released workers in Ethiopian capital

Updated: 2007-05-01 11:51

Seven Chinese oil workers kidnapped in a rebels raid on an oilfield in Ethiopia last Tuesday arrive at an airport in Addis Ababa, captial of of Ethiopia April 30, 2007. They were released earlier in the day. [Xinhua]

The Seven Chinese oil workers kidnapped by Ethiopian rebels after a deadly raid on an oil venture arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday, a Chinese official said.

The staff, who worked for an exploration bureau of the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, arrived aboard a small military aircraft at an air force base some 50 km southeast of the capital city, Wang Shengwen, head of a special Chinese team sent to rescue the kidnapped workers, told Xinhua.

The workers, who were kidnapped last Tuesday, were scheduled to fly back home to China on Tuesday, Wang said.

All seven were in stable health condition despite obvious tiredness after their terrifying experience.

The Chinese workers "are generally in a good condition except for bacteria diarrhea," doctors from a Chinese medical team here said after a thorough medical checkup.

During the abduction, the workers were forced to drink unclean water and eat unclean food, the doctors said.

The Chinese staff were kidnapped at one of the oil company's premises in Ethiopia's eastern Somali state. Some 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese workers were killed during the attack.

The kidnappers, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, released the workers on Sunday and handed them to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Wang said the release was made possible with the help of "some friendly African countries," who helped contact the rebel group and urged it to release the workers as soon as possible. But he declined to say which countries had provided help in the release.

The ICRC had facilitated the release and safe return of the workers, he said, adding that two Somali elders also took part in the negotiations with the rebels.

The Chinese official urged the Ethiopian government to take further measures to protect Chinese citizens working in the country, but stressed that Sino-Ethiopian cooperation will not be affected by the incident.

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