October 28, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese government dismissed reports that the Chinese oil workers were killed following fighting with the military units that tried to rescue them.
- 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 (photo by Johann Hattingh)
The Chinese government said today that three oil workers abducted by gunmen in southern Kordofan were killed Monday after a military operation carried by the Sudanese army to free them from.
The undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry, Mutrif Siddiq told reporters in Khartoum that there were no clashes with the kidnappers to free the hostages. He added that they started to shoot randomly and shot the Chinese workers when a helicopter that was monitoring their movement, overhead the group.
The Sudanese official said his government was seeking a negotiated solution for the kidnapping adding that tribal and local leaders were mandated to negotiate their release.
Khartoum also rectified the number of the killed Chinese. In a first time the Sudanese official said they were five but later said only three where killed and three others were injured. The kidnappers still detain three hostages.
Ahmed Hussein Adam the spokesperson of the rebel JEM denied the involvement of his movement in the kidnapping. He also accused Khartoum of orchestrating the operation to divert the attention of the international community.
In a telephone call the Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi asked his Sudanese counterpart Deng Alor to take substantial and effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel
"It is one of the most serious killing cases of oversea Chinese workers in recent years and we are very shocked by it," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said via a phone conversation with his Sudanese counterpart Deng Alor.
Siddiq said Sudan is determined to seek the killers who committed this heinous crime.
"The kidnappers are criminals. They are outlaws. They are terrorists, and we will not have any rest until we arrest all of them and bring them to justice," said the undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry.
"Until we retrieve all the missing persons either dead or alive and until we arrest all the kidnappers, by then we will declare this operation over," he added.
However Siddiq said the whereabouts of three remaining Chinese hostages was unknown and that it was not known whether they were dead or alive.
The Chinese ambassador to Khartoum, who accompanied the bodies back to the capital, said information was still being gathered and that China would wait for the outcome of a Sudanese government investigation.
The rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front killed nine Chinese oil workers of Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau (ZPEB) during an attack against a Chinese oil field in eastern Ethiopia on Tuesday April 24, 2007.