'Scared' abductors kill 3 Chinese hostages in Sudan
KHARTOUM, Sudan - The kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan killed at least three hostages yesterday after being spooked by a surveillance plane, a Sudanese government official said, contradicting Chinese claims of a botched rescue.
Initially, the Sudanese government said five had been killed, but the undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry, Mutrif Siddiq, told reporters only three of the Chinese workers were confirmed dead and three others were injured and receiving medical care. Three more remain missing.
"Our forces are now scouring all the hiding places to search for the missing, whether killed or injured," Siddiq told reporters at the airport, where the coffins of three victims were unloaded.
A dozen Chinese peacekeepers saluted the coffins, covered in red Chinese flags.
The kidnappers "are running, they are scared, maybe they will do something reckless. We really don't know the status of these missing," Siddiq said.
China originally said that the hostages had been killed during a Sudanese rescue operation. But Siddiq insisted there were no clashes, only a plane tracking their movements overhead. The kidnappers, he said, shot randomly at the aircraft as they fled the scene.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China was involved in the rescue attempt, but declined to say if the Chinese government had been in contact with the rebels and refused to give further details.
The deaths are one of the most violent acts China has faced in recent years as its businesses expand worldwide to buy energy and other raw materials or find new markets.
Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein of Sudan called the slayings a "terrorist act," and Foreign Ministry officials said there will be new measures to protect foreign interests in Sudan.
China, which buys nearly two-thirds of Sudan's oil, has angered anti-government forces in Darfur, who argue China is providing crucial revenue to the government amid a civil war in which 300,000 people have been killed.