Chinese oil workers kidnapped in Sudan’s Kordofan

October 19, 2008 (ST)

Nine Chinese oil workers have been kidnapped today in southern Kordofan, where Chinese and Indian personnel were abducted in the past. However there is no claim of the abduction.

The missing were three Chinese engineers and six other workers employed by the China National Petroleum Corporation. Oil fields in the area are run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium involving China’s CNPC, India’s ONGC, Malaysia’s Petronas and state-owned Sudapet.

The Sudanese authorities said the Chinese oil workers were kidnapped on Saturday; they also accused the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of the abduction. However, the rebel group witch was involved last year in the kidnapping of 5 foreign workers from the area didn’t issue any statement claiming responsibility for the action.

Heglig lies near the line separating the former warring parties of north and south Sudan, in the Muglad Basin where most of Sudan’s proven oil reserves are found.

Ali Yousuf, director of protocol at the Sudanese foreign ministry, stated Sudanese forces were scouring the area of the kidnap, inside the "Block 4" oil field, but "no contact has been made with the kidnappers."

The members of the Arab Messeria tribe had reportedly carried out the kidnapping because they want a greater share of the region’s oil revenue.

The Messeria were also blamed for the kidnapping of four Indian oil workers and their Sudanese driver in the same area in May. All five managed to escape or were released unharmed, the last one in July.

Also Darfur rebels attacked oil Chinese firms in the area because they blame China for its diplomatic and military support to Khartoum.

The JEM rebels attacked the Chinese-run Defra oil field in Kordofan in October of last year, kidnapped two foreign workers. Two months later, the group attacked an army garrison in another Chinese-run oil field in the same province.

In 2004, Darfur rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army kidnapped two Chinese engineers working on water projects in the western region, which neighbours Kordofan.


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