BEIJING — Twenty-nine Chinese workers abducted by rebels in Sudan more than a week ago have been released and were boarding a Red Cross plane to leave rebel territory Tuesday, state media said.
Rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North attacked a road construction site on Jan. 28. Of the 47 Chinese who worked there, 29 were taken hostage, 17 managed to escape and one died.
Xinhua News Agency reported the abducted Chinese workers were boarding a plane from the International Committee of the Red Cross, and state broadcaster CCTV said all 29 had been released. No other details of their release were provided.
An official with the Foreign Ministry said it would look into the report. ICRC spokesman Jean-Yves Clemenzo in Geneva said the group would not comment immediately because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Xinhua said the Red Cross was mediating between officials in the capital Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a branch of a guerrilla movement that has fought various regimes in Khartoum for decades. Its members hail from a minority ethnic group now in control of much of South Sudan, which became the world’s newest country six months ago in a breakaway from Sudan.
Sudan has accused South Sudan of arming pro-South Sudan groups in the South Kordofan region, where the Chinese workers’ camp was located. The government of South Sudan says the accusations are a smoke screen intended to justify a future invasion of the South.
Chinese companies have invested heavily in Sudanese oil production. South Sudan and Sudan are in a bitter dispute over oil, which is produced primarily in South Sudan but runs through Sudanese pipelines for export.