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22 April 2024

Chinese workers kidnapped in Egypt freed

By Reuters

Twenty-five Chinese workers 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 concern about Chinese working in high-risk countries.

China had earlier said it was "shocked" by a separate abduction, involving 29 Chinese workers held by rebels in the Sudanese border state of South Kordofan, highlighting growing fears over such incidents.

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

The kidnappings in Sudan and Egypt dramatise China's difficulties as it ventures into dangerous places generally shunned by Western companies.

China's ambassador to Egypt, Song Aiguo, had contacted Egyptian officials from the interior and defense ministries on Tuesday, urging them to secure the release of the Chinese 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 Cairo and have attacked police stations and blocked access to towns, villages and industrial sites to show their discontent.

The isolated desert region has descended further into lawlessness since a popular uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak a year ago and threw the security apparatus into disarray.

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

The Sudan abductions marked the third such case in recent years, with other Chinese workers and engineers abducted in 2004 and 2008.