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02 December 2023

Chinese workers kidnapped in Egypt freed

By Reuters

Twenty-five Chinese kidnapped in Egypt were freed on Wednesday, a day after they were taken hostage by Bedouin tribesmen, Xinhua news agency said, the second kidnapping in days that has sparked worry about Chinese workers in dangerous places.

China had earlier said it was "shocked" by the other abduction, of 29 Chinese workers by rebels in the Sudanese border state of South Kordofan.

The 25 workers freed in Egypt were in good condition, Xinhua said, citing an embassy official there, Ma Jianchun.

Bedouin tribesmen kidnapped 24 Chinese cement factory workers and a translator in Egypt's Sinai region on Tuesday and held them for 15 hours, according to Xinhua.

China's ambassador to Egypt, Song Aiguo, had contacted Egyptian interior and defense officials on Tuesday, urging them to secure the release of the workers, Xinhua said.

The kidnappers were demanding that authorities free fellow tribesmen from prison, according to tribal sources.

Residents of Sinai say they are neglected by the central government in Cairo and have attacked police stations and blocked access to towns, villages and industrial sites to show their discontent.

In Sudan, a team of officials China sent to seek the release of the 29 workers arrived in the capital, Khartoum, on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the rebels holding the workers since Saturday said they were in good condition.

The spokesman for the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, told Reuters rebel officials had met Chinese diplomats in neighbouring Ethiopia to assure them the workers were in good health. But he gave no indication of when they would be freed.

The SPLM-N also asked China to pressure Sudan to open humanitarian corridors to supply the rebel-held South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas with food and emergency aid, though that was not a release condition.

It is the third abduction of Chinese working in energy-rich Sudan since 2004.