China Says Sudanese Rebels Hold 29 Workers

Posted January 30th, 2012 at 5:45 am (UTC-5)
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China's official news agency says 29 Chinese workers abducted by rebels Saturday in southern Sudan remain in custody, while Sudanese state media say the military has freed 14 workers.

The conflicting reports Monday do not make clear the total number or status of the workers involved.

China's Xinhua news agency said 17 workers have been moved to safety by the Sudanese military, but that 29 others were still being held.

A spokesman for the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North said a total of 29 Chinese workers were taken Saturday after a battle with Sudanese troops in South Kordofan state, and were being held for their own protection.

South Kordofan borders newly independent South Sudan, which broke away in July.

The SPLM-N is a branch of the rebels who fought for the South during Sudan's long north-south civil war.

Fighting broke out last year between Sudan and rebels in South Kordofan and in another border state – Blue Nile.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has accused South Sudan of supporting the rebels, a charge South Sudan denies.