Sudan rebels say they captured 29 Chinese workers

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    Sudan rebels say they captured 29 Chinese workers


    Rebels in Sudan's South Kordofan state captured 29 Chinese workers after a battle with government forces, a spokesman for the insurgents said on Sunday.
    Nine members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) were also being held, Arnu Ngutulu Lodi of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), told AFP.
    "Yes, we have captured them," he said. "I want to assure you right now they are in safe hands."
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    China confirmed some of its nationals "have gone missing" after rebels on Saturday attacked the camp of a Chinese company, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
    "The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy to Sudan have initiated an emergency response to the incident," Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said, according to Xinhua.
    Liu did not give a figure for the number of missing, but said the ministry had summoned Sudan's charge d'affaires in Beijing and urged Khartoum to search for them.
    "Currently, the Sudanese government is doing their utmost to locate and rescue the missing Chinese nationals," he said.
    Lodi, of the rebels, said the Chinese have not been kidnapped and none was wounded.
    He said they, along with the Sudanese, were captured on Saturday when the rebels destroyed a Sudanese military convoy between Rashad town and Al-Abbasiya in the north-east of the province, which has been at war since June.
    Officials from the Chinese embassy in Khartoum could not be reached for comment by AFP.
    Xinhua said the workers were employed by Power Construction Corp of China.
    Wang Zhiping, a senior executive of the firm, told the news agency that more than 20 Chinese on a road-building project were missing after rebels attacked.
    China is Sudan's major trading partner, the largest buyer of Sudanese oil, and a key military supplier to the regime in Khartoum.
    Sudan's official SUNA news agency quoted Sawarmi Khaled Saad, the army spokesman, as saying rebels had attacked the site of a Chinese firm building roads in the Rashad area.
    Troops were pursuing the rebels and there was no information about casualties, SUNA said in the report late Saturday.
    Saad could not be reached by AFP.
    Lodi said the Chinese were working mainly on road construction in the area.
    They are being held in the Nuba mountains "until further notice" and cannot be released because of the security situation.
    "Today is a little bit calm but we are expecting at any time SAF may launch an attack on us," he said.
    There is growing international concern over the situation in South Kordofan and nearby Blue Nile state, where a similar conflict broke out in September. The government is fighting ethnic minority insurgents once allied to the former rebels who now rule South Sudan.
    The South gained independence from Khartoum last July after decades of civil war.
    Food shortages would become critical without substantial aid deliveries into South Kordofan and Blue Nile by March, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has said.
    Khartoum has severely restricted the work of foreign relief agencies in the war zones.
    It cited security concerns and also accused aid workers of using United Nations flights to deliver arms and ammunition to the rebels -- a claim for which the UN's top humanitarian official said there was "no evidence."
    Princeton Lyman, the US administration's special envoy for Sudan, told reporters last week the situation is so dire Washington has warned Khartoum it would consider ways for aid to be sent in without Sudanese government approval.


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