Rebels blame Sudan
by The Times
A Darfur rebel group which kidnapped five oil workers in Sudan last month blamed the central government’s security services for failing to deliver the hostages to their families.
In a notice posted on its website the Justice and Equality Movement said it had handed over the five hostages - an Egyptian, an Iraqi and three Sudanese - to tribal leaders.
But the tribal elders refused to relinquish the workers to government security services out of fear for their safety, JEM said.
"Khartoum agents and their security services prevented these people from returning to their families," said the JEM, adding it would hold the authorities responsible for whatever happened to the oil workers.
On Friday, a JEM commander said the hostages had been handed over to tribal chiefs in the central Sudanese region of Kordofan on November 12.
The independent Al-Sudani newspaper said an armed group from the Arab Masiriya tribe is holding them for a 500,000 dollar-ransom and also demanding satellite phones.
The five, including Joseph William Samuel from Egypt and Ahmed Heyman Mohammed from Iraq, were abducted in an attack on an oil field in the Kordofan region, just east of war-torn Darfur, on October 23.
The rebels previously demanded that their employers withdraw from working with the Khartoum government to develop Sudan’s oil resources.
The group had warned it would attack foreign oil companies and target Chinese firms in particular because they supply weapons to Khartoum.
The five workers were seized from a facility at Defra run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium involving China’s CNPC, India’s ONGC, Malaysia’s Petronas and state-owned Sudapet.
The oilfield produces more than half of Sudan’s output of some 500,000 barrels of oil per day, most of which is exported to China.
Beijing has been accused of failing to exert pressure on Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir to stop the conflict in Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have died and more than two million displaced, according to UN figures.