SUDAN WATCH: Chinese hostages in Abyei, Kordofan: 4 dead, 3 injured, 2 missing after rescue attempt by Chinese and GOS forces

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chinese hostages in Abyei, Kordofan: 4 dead, 3 injured, 2 missing after rescue attempt by Chinese and GOS forces

Conflicting news reports over the past few days made it unclear as to how many of the nine kidnapped Chinese oil workers were killed, and by whom, in the oil rich region of Abyei, a province of south Kordofan, central Sudan.

China National Petroleum Corporation is the parent company of the oil workers’ employer. The workers were kidnapped on October 18, 2008.

As noted here yesterday, Tuesday, October 28, 2008, reportedly, the nine oil workers were kidnapped by Awlad Omran, a sub-clan of al-Misseriya Arab tribe. [An omda of the Misseriya tribe is leader of the Janjaweed from Habila to Forbranga. Hard-line elements in Khartoum may seek to use the Misseriya as proxies to destabilise the region and scuttle the CPA]

Today, Wednesday, October 29, 2008 Sudan confirms that three of the nine oil workers were killed, the three injured are currently receiving medical treatment, and three are still missing. China says Sudan hostages died in failed rescue (see report copied here below).

Sudanese Foreign Minister, Mutrif Siddiq, said the kidnappers planned to take the hostages over into neighboring Darfur, west Sudan.

Voice of America's report from Khartoum Tuesday, October 28, 2008 (see copy here below) says Ali al-Sadiq confirmed that five Chinese oil workers had been killed Monday and he said:
"At around 3 pm local time yesterday, the abductors of the Chinese oil workers, without any provocation, have killed five of those nine Chinese workers. Two of them managed to escape with injuries and the remaining two were recaptured by the Justice and Equality Movement.
Yesterday's report by Associated Press (copied here below) says that Chinese and Sudanese government forces were involved in a rescue attempt of the nine hostages during which the captors executed five of the hostages, while two were rescued and two more remain missing.

Later on today, an AFP report from Khartoum said the body of a fourth Chinese hostage was found in Sudan today as two local staff for a Yemeni company were shot dead. Also, news just in:
Fourth body of Chinese hostage killed in Sudan retrieved

KHARTOUM, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The body of a fourth Chinese worker abducted in southwest Sudan by local militants earlier this month has been recovered, officials of the Chinese Embassy in Sudan said on Wednesday.
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Bodies of 3 killed Chinese workers transferred to Khartoum

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 (China Daily/Shanghai Daily/CRI) report:
The bodies of the three Chinese workers killed by kidnappers in Sudan were transferred to the airport in Khartoum late Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A dozen Chinese peacekeepers saluted the coffins covered in red Chinese flags, Shanghai Daily reported.

Bodies of killed Chinese workers transferred to Khartoum

Photo: Workers cover the coffins of the killed Chinese workers with China's national flags before unloading them from an aircraft at the airport in Khartoum on Tuesday, October 28, 2008. (Xinhua).

The kidnappers of the nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan panicked when they saw a military aircraft and killed at least three of their hostages, Sudanese officials said Tuesday.

The aircraft was monitoring the hostages, said Mohammed Doureik, the commissioner of Abyei in the province of south Kordofan where the October 18 abduction took place.

"There were no clashes. There was a panic when they saw the plane and they killed them," said Doureik, who has been following negotiations with tribal leaders for the release of the remaining hostages.

Originally the Sudanese government said four had been killed, but the undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry, Mutrif Siddiq, said that only three of the Chinese workers were confirmed dead and three others were injured and now receiving medical care. The remaining three are missing.

Siddiq said the kidnappers planned to take the hostages over into neighboring Darfur according to communications intercepted between the kidnappers and the rebels who operate there.

The Sudan government’s forces are now scouring all the hiding places to search for the missing, he added.

Sudan's Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein called the murders a "terrorist act," and Foreign Ministry officials said there would be new measures to protect foreign interests.

China on Tuesday condemned the killings, urging the African nation to take all measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals.

"We feel strong indignation and condemn the terrorist act by the kidnappers on unarmed Chinese company staff," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press conference in Beijing.
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China says Sudan hostages died in failed rescue

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 (Associated Press) report via Boston Herald:
BEIJING - Kidnappers killed five Chinese oil workers in Sudan during a failed rescue attempt by the Sudanese government, China’s Foreign Ministry said today.

A ministry spokeswoman gave few details about Monday’s rescue effort and the deaths — among the most violent acts China has faced in recent years during the expansion of Chinese businesses worldwide.

Two other workers were rescued during Monday’s operation while two more remained missing, said Jiang Yu, the spokeswoman.

Late Tuesday, the ministry said it was still investigating what had happened, after receiving new information from the Sudanese government that indicated four hostages had died, four were rescued and one was still missing.

Mohammed Doureik, the Sudanese commissioner of Abyei where the oil workers died, said the kidnappers panicked when they saw a military aircraft fly overhead and killed their hostages.

He said the plane was monitoring the hostages, who had been kidnapped Oct. 18.

Jiang said the Chinese government was involved in the rescue, but would not elaborate or say if officials had been in contact with the kidnappers. A working group of Chinese Embassy officials and executives from China National Petroleum Corp., the parent company of the oil workers’ employer, was in Sudan at the time, she said.

China’s account differed from that given by the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, which said Monday that the workers had been killed execution-style "without provocation." Spokesman Ali Sadiq said two more Chinese were injured but managed to flee and two others were still being held by the kidnappers.

The discrepancies between accounts could not immediately be resolved. Jiang defended both governments’ actions and put the onus on the kidnappers.

"The Chinese and Sudanese governments have made great efforts for their rescue," Jiang said at a regular news conference. "We express strong indignation and condemnation to the inhumane terrorist deed of the kidnappers in killing these unarmed Chinese workers."

But the kidnapping and rescue underscore both the dangers faced by Chinese firms and the pressure Beijing is under to protect its business interests as they expand globally, sometimes in conflict-ridden parts of the world.

China’s presence in Sudan — part of its push to expand worldwide to buy energy and other raw materials or find new markets — has become a target of disaffection. China buys nearly two-thirds of Sudan’s oil, providing what critics say are crucial revenues to a Sudanese government involved in a civil war in the Darfur region, where 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced.

Rebels have warned Chinese and other oil firms to leave the country, saying their operations help support the government in Khartoum.

"The incident rings the safety alarm bell for Chinese investing overseas," said Shu Yunguo, director of the Africa Research Center at Shanghai Normal University.

Shu and other experts said the killings would nevertheless not deter China in its search for energy and other raw materials to fuel economic growth — and that as a result ensuring workers’ safety had become a challenge.

"The one thing this reflects is the unfortunate cost that China pays for engagement in the world in less than stable situations, whether it’s Nigeria, in Pakistan, in (the Pakistani province of) Baluchistan, or Sudan," said David Zweig of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"But China, being a latecomer and having invested so much in Sudan, is not about to pull out so fast," said Zweig.

Chinese oil workers have been attacked or taken hostage in Nigeria and Ethiopia. Earlier this month, Islamic militants captured two Chinese telecommunications engineers in Pakistan.

The recent hostage-taking was the third attack on Chinese targets in Sudan in 12 months.

The kidnappers snatched the China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corp. workers near an oil field in the southwestern region of Kordofan.

Sudan’s government has blamed rebels from Darfur for kidnapping the Chinese, but on Monday a spokesman for the rebels denied involvement. A tribal leader from Kordofan told The Associated Press the kidnappers belonged to a local militia that claims it is neglected and demands jobs and benefits.

Jiang said China would not cut its business ties with Sudan, saying they were beneficial to both countries.

"We have actually played a constructive and contributing role in Sudan’s economic and social development. Our companies have brought a lot of benefit to the local people and we will continue to keep our friendly cooperation with Sudan," she said.

Though international rights groups criticize Beijing for not using its financial ties to pressure Khartoum to end violence, China has said it is working to advance the peace process in Darfur. It has about 140 peacekeepers and engineers deployed in Darfur.

Last year Beijing appointed a veteran diplomat to oversee the issue. The diplomat, Liu Guijin, returned to Khartoum on Friday for his fifth visit, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
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Sudan Urges Condemnation of Darfur Rebel Group for Oil Worker Deaths

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 (Voice of America) report from Khartoum by Blake Evans-Pritchard:
Sudan has urged the international community to strongly condemn the Justice and Equality Movement rebel group from Darfur, which it accuses of executing five Chinese oil workers that were kidnapped last week. For VOA, Blake Evans-Pritchard reports from Khartoum.

A spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs in Khartoum, Ali al-Sadiq, confirmed that five Chinese oil workers had been killed Monday.

He said, "At around 3 pm local time yesterday, the abductors of the Chinese oil workers, without any provocation, have killed five of those nine Chinese workers. Two of them managed to escape with injuries and the remaining two were recaptured by the Justice and Equality Movement. The minister of foreign affairs has issued a statement last night strongly condemning the act and requesting the international community to do the same. The ministry also believes that JEM has committed so many atrocities in the past without being condemned by the international community."

The nine oil workers, employed by the China National Petroleum Corporation, were seized last week, along with their driver, in South Kordofan State. The Block 4 oil field where they had been working is east of Darfur on the border between North and South Sudan.

Al-Sadiq said the government is working with local tribal chiefs to locate the two missing oil workers.

The Justice and Equality Movement accuses China of supporting Khartoum in the conflict with Darfur, and says that it wants Chinese nationals out of the region. It has also been pushing for fairer distribution of the oil wealth.

But a rebel group spokesman, Ahmed Hussein, denied involvement.

He said: "JEM is not responsible for this attack. It has no question whatsoever with this incident. This is just [an] allegation from the Sudanese government because they know it [JEM] is the only force that is challenging them politically and militarily."

Both Beijing and Khartoum have said the relationship between the two countries will not be affected by the murders of the oil workers.

Ministry of foreign affairs spokesman, Ali al-Sadiq said, ""This act is not going to hamper or to affect in any way the strong ties between Sudan and China. The two countries are going to work hard for the prosperity and for the mutual benefit of the two nations."

Analyst Oswald Clint, of the Sandford C. Bernstein investment research and management firm, agreed that the incident will have little impact on China's involvement in Sudan.

He said, "Africa still has significant undeveloped resources and will continue to be attractive despite the on-the-ground risks. The Chinese will continue to seek out those assets in those areas, as they have to secure steady crude flows through China from as many places as possible, just to feed demand."

Clint added, "Those sort of risks you are seeing in Sudan are also happening in other countries as well. The oil companies have been dealing with them for many decades. You do not switch off an investment because of some on-the-ground activity, because of some kidnappings. Look at Nigeria."

During the past year, kidnappings in African oil-producing giant Nigeria have become more and more frequent. But Clint says he does not see this making a great difference to foreign investment in the oil sector there.
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Chinese ambassador to Sudan Li Chengwen & Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ali Sadiq

Mon Oct 20, 2008 - Chinese ambassador to Sudan Li Chengwen, left, and Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ali Sadiq, right, speak to media after meeting to discuss the fate of nine Chinese oil workers who were kidnapped in an oil-rich region of southwestern Sudan, in the capital Khartoum, Sudan Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. Sudan's Foreign Ministry says the kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers are demanding a share of the region's oil profits. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin

Mon Oct 27, 2008 - China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin speaks to reporters following a meeting with Sudanese foreign ministry officials in Khartoum. Tribal chiefs in central Sudan have set out into the bush hoping to meet the kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers for the first time and start negotiations for their release, a tribesman has said. (AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin and Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq

Tue Oct 28, 2008 - China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin and Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq speak to reporters in Khartoum. The bodies of Chinese hostages and colleagues recovering from a kidnapping ordeal are to be flown to Khartoum as Sudan vowed to step up security for foreign oil workers across the country. (AFP/File/Ashraf Shazly)

Chinese UN peacekeepers

Tue Oct 28, 2008 - Chinese UN peacekeepers stand in honour next to the caskets of three Chinese kidnapped and killed oil workers ahead of repatriation in Khartoum airport. The bodies of three Chinese oil workers and three of their colleagues wounded in a kidnapping ordeal arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for full military honours ahead of repatriation. (AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Chinese UN peacekeepers

Photo: Chinese UN peacekeepers stand in honour next to three caskets, draped in Chinese flags, of kidnapped and killed Chinese oil workers ahead of their repatriation at Khartoum airport. (AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Chinese UN peacekeepers stand in honour next to three caskets

Photo: Coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. The kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan panicked when they saw a military aircraft fly overhead and killed at least three of their hostages, Sudanese government officials said Tuesday, contradicting Chinese claims of a botched rescue attempt. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Coffins of 3 Chinese oil workers arrive at Khartoum Airport

Photo: Chinese Peacekeepers line up as the bodies of three Chinese citizens, killed after being kidnapped, arrive at Khartoum Airport, October 28, 2008. Sudan said it was searching for three missing Chinese oil workers on Tuesday after what Beijing described as a failed attempt to rescue nine Chinese men kidnapped in the African country more than a week ago. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said four workers were killed during the operation. But the Sudanese government, which said the killings were unprovoked, revised the death toll to three. Three others escaped with injuries. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin (SUDAN) Reuters Tue Oct 28, 2008

Chinese UN peacekeepers salute

Photo: Chinese Peacekeepers salute as the bodies of three Chinese citizens, killed after being kidnapped, arrive at Khartoum Airport, October 28, 2008. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin (SUDAN)

Khartoum Airport

Photo: In this photo released by UNMIS, coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/UNMIS, Johann Hattingh)

Khartoum Airport

Photo: Coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Khartoum Airport

Photo: In this photo released by UNMIS, coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/UNMIS, Johann Hattingh)

Chinese and Sudanese officials

Photo: Tue Oct 28, 2008 Chinese and Sudanese officials carry a coffin of one of three Chinese citizens killed in south Kordofan, central Sudan, after being kidnapped, at Khartoum Airport, October 28, 2008. Sudan said it was searching for three missing Chinese oil workers on Tuesday after what Beijing described as a failed attempt to rescue nine Chinese men kidnapped in the African country more than a week ago. than a week ago. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said four workers were killed during the operation. But the Sudanese government, which said the killings were unprovoked, revised the death toll to three. Three others escaped with injuries. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin (SUDAN) flown from South Kordofan in central Sudan

Sudan oil fields map 2008

Graphic map of Sudan showing its oil fields and the international consortium involved. Tue Oct 28, 2008 (AFP/Graphic/Anibal Maizcaceres)

For further reports on Abeyi, click on Abyei label here below.

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