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5 Chinese engineers are slain in Sudan

October 28, 2008|Times Wire Services

KHARTOUM, SUDAN — Kidnappers holding nine Chinese oil workers killed five of them Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Sadiq said. Two others managed to escape, and two remain captive, he said.

The nine were abducted Oct. 18 while traveling near an oil field in the southwestern region of Kordofan.

Sudan's government has blamed rebels from the adjacent, war-torn region of Darfur for the kidnapping, but a spokesman for the group denied involvement Monday.

Sadiq said the kidnappers had demanded that Chinese oil firms leave the region and were sending a message by killing the hostages.

He said the execution-style killings were unprovoked.

Sadiq emphasized that there were no clashes, and the ministry said tribal chiefs had been negotiating with captors.

The Chinese Embassy in Khartoum could not be reached for comment, but the official New China News Agency said the embassy strongly condemned the killings.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said authorities would take "more security measures" to protect Chinese and other foreign workers.

Sadiq maintained that the kidnappers took orders from the Justice and Equality Movement, a Darfur rebel group. They had demanded a share of the oil wealth through jobs.

But rebel spokesman Ahmed Hussein denied that his group had any role.

Officials and rebels routinely trade charges of human rights violations in Darfur, where fighting has raged since 2003.

Beijing, which buys nearly two-thirds of Sudan's oil, has been criticized by rebel groups and international human rights watchdogs for its close ties with Khartoum.

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