Sudan trying to rescue Chinese workers

Updated: 2012-02-03 19:55


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KHARTOUM - The Sudanese government is exerting active efforts to rescue the Chinese workers abducted after a rebel attack on their camp in South Kordofan State, Chinese Embassy in Khartoum said Friday.

"Since the rebel attack on the camp of the Chinese company in South Kordofan and holding of 29 Chinese workers, the Chinese embassy has urged the Sudanese government to speed up the rescue operations in a manner that ensures their safety," an official at the embassy told Xinhua Friday.

"The Sudanese government has exerted considerable efforts and launched active rescue operations," he added.

He went on saying that "according to the current facts, there are many options to rescue the held workers, including demanding the rebels to free the women, sick persons and elders as a first step before releasing all the Chinese workers."

A group belonging to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)/ northern sector on January 28 attacked a camp of a Chinese company operating at road construction site in South Kordofan State.

The rebels abducted 29 of the total 47 Chinese workers in the camp, while the other 18 workers fled to neighboring areas. The Sudanese army found 17 Chinese workers later and transported them to a safe area, but one worker is still missing.

The SPLA/northern sector said the abducted Chinese workers had been transferred to a safe area and were in good health and in good hands.

Arno Taloudy, a spokesman of the SPLA group denied that the movement has terms for releasing the Chinese workers.

"We do not have any problem with these workers and we have not set any terms to release them," Taloudy told Xinhua.

He went on saying that "We have not proposed any terms for the Sudanese government and we do not have contacts with the Sudanese government. Presently we are looking for a way, through a political-military committee formed by the command of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), to release these Chinese workers, set a date for their release and the party to which they are to be handed over."

The Sudanese government, for its part, denied that it has contacted with the rebels who are holding the 29 Chinese workers or received any demands or terms from the SPLM to release the workers.

"We do not have any contacts with the rebels and we have not received any terms from them. We never deal with this movement because it is illegal and outlawed," Abdalla Masar, a Sudanese government spokesman, told Xinhua.

"What has been committed by the rebel movement is categorized as piracy because it abducts innocent and helpless workers and bargains to release them. This is an illegal act and violates all international norms," he added.

He further said that the purpose behind the abduction of the Chinese workers might be "to liquidate the Chinese presence in Sudan. There are foreign trends which do not want the continuation of the Chinese companies in Sudan and want them to be replaced by Western companies."

South Kordofan, located on the Sudan-South Sudan border, has been witnessing armed clashes between the Sudanese army and the SPLA's northern sector since June 2011.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting the rebels on the borderline between the two countries, particularly in Blue Nile and South Kordofan States.