The Sudanese military said Jan. 30 that it had “liberated” 14 of the 29 Chinese road workers abducted by guerillas in in an attack on an encampment in the oil-rich border state of South Kordofan. But Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted embassy officials in Khartoum as saying all the workers were still missing. There is also dispute as to the nature of the attack in which the workers were taken. A spokesman from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels told the AFP news agency that the workers were captured together with nine Sudanese soldiers when fighters attacked a military convoy. Wang Zhiping, a senior executive of the Power Construction Corporation that employed the workers, told Xinhua the rebels had attacked the workers at their camp. Together, more than 70 road workers, Chinese and Sudanese, were taken. The Chinese firm is building a road into a remote area of the state, despite charges by human rights groups that the Sudanese government is using such infrastructure to rush in troops to crush a growing insurrection.
The SPLM’s secretary-general Yasir Arman said in a statement: “The leadership of the SPLM-N is exerting the maximum effort to obtain accurate information from our forces in the field regarding the Chinese who were detained in Southern Kordofan.” (BBC News, NYT, Sudan Tribune, Jan. 30)