Page last updated at 20:07 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

China hostages 'killed in Sudan'


Five Chinese oil workers kidnapped in Sudan nine days ago have been killed, Sudan's foreign ministry has said.

The five were part of a group of nine Chinese workers seized from an oil field in the Kordofan region of Sudan.

The foreign ministry said two of the group were wounded but in government hands after escaping, and two were still held by their kidnappers.

The Sudanese government has blamed rebels from Darfur region, which borders Kordofan, for the kidnapping.

Oil wealth

Foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig said the kidnappers were from the Darfur rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

"This was done with direct instructions from the Justice and Equality Movement," he said.

JEM has said it has forces in the area but was not involved in seizing the Chinese.

The kidnappers later released a local driver kidnapped with the Chinese with a note saying they wanted a share in the region's oil wealth.

The Chinese were employees of the China National Petroleum Corporation, part of a consortium making up the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC).

The men were seized from an oil field in Abyei district, in Southern Kordofan state, which the GNPOC has been exploiting.

It is the third time in the last year that oil workers have been abducted in the energy-rich region.

China is a key purchaser of Sudanese oil and has been investing heavily in the country's oil infrastructure.

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