- Five Chinese oil workers were reportedly killed today by a band of Sudanese kidnappers who panicked when they saw a military aircraft fly overhead.
Reports said five were among a group of nine kidnapped in town of Abyei 10 days ago. A Sudanese official told media that aircraft was just monitoring the hostages.
Meanwhile, Chinese government has condemned killing of its citizens in Sudan, calling it a terrorist act, but said it would continue to invest in that country.
It argues that the five were killed in a botched rescue operation. Sudanese officials maintain there were no clashes, and describe killing as "executions" and a "terrorist act" by a Darfur rebel group.
However, Darfur rebels have denied involvement.
Reports further said, three of Chinese are back in government hands; one remains unaccounted for, according to media reports.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu has urged Sudanese government to do all it could to protect Chinese residents and property.
China is a key purchaser of Sudanese oil and has been investing heavily in the country.
Kidnappers later reportedly released a local driver seized at same time as the Chinese nationals, with a note saying they wanted a share in region's oil wealth.
It is third time since last year that oil workers have been abducted in the energy-rich region. Rebels have previously warned Chinese and other oil firms to leave the country, saying their operations help support government in Khartoum.
Beijing has also been criticised by international rights groups for not using its financial ties to pressure government to end violence in Darfur region, where up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes.
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