Four Chinese construction workers kidnapped in Darfur in Sudan
Armed men kidnapped four Chinese nationals and five Sudanese workers engaged in road construction in Sudan's strife-ridden Darfur region, the official Suna news agency reported yesterday.
The attackers abducted the men and seized their vehicles on Saturday as they were finishing work, the report said, without naming the construction company nor indicating who was behind the kidnapping.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing was demanding an "all-out rescue operation" for its four citizens.
Authorities were pursuing the kidnappers with 18 military vehicles, Suna said, without giving further details.
In recent years, there have been a wave of kidnappings for ransom in Darfur, where ethnic rebels a decade ago began an uprising against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government.
Although violence is down from its peak, villages have been razed and rebel-government fighting, banditry, inter-Arab and tribal disputes continue to afflict the region, in Sudan's far west.
Early last year, rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North abducted a group of 29 Chinese workers in southern Sudan.
The captives, who were involved in a road-building project in South Kordofan state, were abducted on January 28, 2011 when the rebels destroyed a Sudanese military convoy between Rashad town and Al-Abbasiya and took over the area. They were released unharmed after 11 days.
In December, a Sudanese court handed down life sentences to four Sudanese for killing a Chinese worker during a raid on a workers' oil camp, the state-linked Sudanese Media Centre said. It gave no details.
China is Sudan's major trading partner, the largest buyer of Sudanese oil and is a key military supplier to the regime in Khartoum.
Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg, Reuters