All 29 kidnapped Chinese workers in Sudan free

Twenty-nine Chinese workers abducted by local rebels in Sudan last month arrived  on Tuesday afternoon at the Wilson Airport in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where they were handed over to the local Chinese embassy.

The workers, who had earlier boarded a plane chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sudan shortly after being released by the rebels, reached the Kenyan airport at around 5:35 p.m. local time after 11 days in captivity.

The workers, some frail-looking, bearded and some in T-shirts, are expected to set off for China after a short stay in Nairobi.

“I feel good,” one of the workers told Xinhua reporters at the scene.

They appeared at the airport flanked by Chinese officials including Liu Guangyuan, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya and Qiu Xuejun, the head of the Chinese team in Sudan to assist the rescue operation.

Ambassador Liu signed the papers with Christoph Luedi, head of ICRC’s Region Delegation at the airport before the handover.

“This is an excellent cooperation…very close (cooperation),” said Luedi at the airport. “Cooperation between the Chinese embassy here and the Chinese embassy in Sudan and other authorities in Kenya are very smooth.”

The official, who went with the chartered plane in the morning to pick the released Chinese workers, said he could see that the workers were quite relieved at the Sudanese airport.

“This morning they were brought to the airport without any information about what happened. When they saw two planes coming in, they realized there is hope and they can go,” he said.

“When they saw the Chinese people coming, speaking to them in their language, they were quite happy and they were happy to get some food and drinks on the plane. Of course some of them were really tired. They got some sleep on the plane,” he added.

The Chinese workers were held on Jan. 28, when a group of gunmen belonging to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) north sector attacked their camp of a Chinese company operating at a road construction site near Sudan’s Al-Abbasiya Tagali Town in the volatile South Kordofan State.

A total of 47 Chinese workers were in the camp then, among whom 29 were abducted by the assailants while the other 18 managed to fled to neighboring areas. Among the latter, 17 were later found by the Sudanese army and transferred to a safe place, and one was confirmed dead after having been missing for days.

The Sudanese authorities on Tuesday handed over the body of the dead Chinese worker to the Chinese side.

The release came after a stream of intensive rescue efforts carried out by the Chinese government in collaboration with the Sudanese government, the ICRC and other parties.

On Jan. 31, a six-member Chinese mission arrived in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, to assist the local Chinese embassy in the rescue operation and to hold consultations with the Sudanese authorities.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday that the country was using multiple channels and making every possible effort to rescue the captives.

Source: Xinhua

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