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Three foreign hostages freed in West Kordofan state

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May 2, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities have freed three foreign hostages, including two Chinese and an Algerian, who were abducted last month in West Kordofan state.

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The foreign hostages, two Chinese and an Algerian, arrive at Khartoum Airport on 2 May 2014 (Photo: SUNA)

The trio were among a group of workers abducted on 18 April after an unidentified armed group launched an attack at Kanar oilfield in West Kordofan state, killing four security guards. Five Sudanese workers were also abducted.

At the time of the incident, security sources in Khartoum accused the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of abducting the eight engineers, who were working for the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) in an area between Al-Muglad and Heglig.

At a press conference at Khartoum airport on Friday, Sudan’s oil minister, Makkawi Mohamed Awad, confirmed the arrival of the freed hostages in the capital. The remaining five Sudanese hostages are due to be freed in the coming days.

The press conference was held in the presence of the Algerian ambassador to Khartoum and the Chinese charge d’affaires. The latter said that Khartoum had put tremendous efforts into securing the release of the workers, reflecting the strong relations between the two countries.

He said the incident would not affect relations, adding that the partnership between the two countries will continue.

The Algerian diplomat thanked the government and revealed one of the abductees was injured and had already been repatriated to Algeria, while the other was freed on Friday.

Awad added that negotiations with the kidnappers were successfully concluded without a ransom payment, saying the hostages were handed over to West Kordofan state authorities on Thursday.

He described the abduction as “incidental” and said it would not impact work in the oilfields and oil investments in the region, emphasising the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is ready to fully carry out its role.

The oil minister said the armed group had exchanged fire with security guards at the oil site, with another Chinese national managing to escape.

He said hostage negotiations had been coordinated by his ministry in cooperation with the Chinese and Algerian embassies, as well as the West Kordofan government and tribal leaders. The abductees were eventually freed without the use of force.

Awad said he had received regular briefings from the government negotiating team throughout the hostage drama, saying authorities had been kept informed of the health condition of the abductees and had sent medicines to the Algerian hostage.

(ST)

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