Darfur rebels kidnap foreign oil workers

A Darfur rebel group has attacked a Sudanese oilfield and kidnapped a Canadian and an Iraqi worker, a leader of the group said on Thursday, vowing further attacks unless foreign oil companies pull out.

“We attacked Defra oilfield and kidnapped two foreign workers, one is Canadian and another is Iraqi,” said Abdelaziz el-Nur Ashr, field commander for the Justice and Equality Movement in Kordofan, a region to the east of Darfur.

The attack took place on Tuesday, he said, with Darfur peace talks due to begin in Libya on Saturday. The Islamist JEM has already said it will not attend the negotiations, which it has derided as “a masquerade”.

The oilfield is run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a consortium involving China’s CNPC, India’s ONGC, Malaysia’s Petronas and Sudanese state-owned Sudapet.

Defra produces more than half of the about 500 000 barrels per day produced in Sudan, most of which is exported to China.

The attack came during a visit to Khartoum by Beijing’s Darfur envoy, Liu Guijin, who said on Wednesday that “the Darfur issue is developing generally towards a positive direction in spite of some difficulties”.

Liu had been due to leave Sudan for the peace talks in Sirte on Thursday.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao confirmed reports that the oilfield in Darfur has been attacked, but said Chinese citizens working there were safe.

There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from the Khartoum government.

The JEM commander said: “We want China, India and Malaysia to stop oil business because Khartoum is using the oil money to buy arms and kill the people in Darfur. This is our country and they must go,” he told AFP.

“The people of Kordofan are suffering, they are not benefiting from the revenues generated from the oilfields.
Instead, they are paying dearly for it with their lives.”—AFP

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