The problems and challenges facing Sudan continue to grow. Along with a long-running conflict in the Darfur region, an uneasy peace between the Khartoum government and a southern rebel movement, and heightened banditry throughout the country, now add kidnapping to the list.
Nine Chinese and Sudanese oil field workers were seized in South Kordofan State last week, and reports have emerged that 5 of the hostages have been killed.
Gunmen seized the men in an area where they were doing contract work for an international consortium of oil companies developing Sudan's energy reserves. Authorities had worked for the hostages’ release through peaceful means, but reports subsequently emerged of a Sudanese rescue attempt that left 5 dead, 2 rescued and 2 missing. We are working to confirm details of the incident.
Government officials and allies of Khartoum, including on the Security Council, blame a rebel group based in Darfur that was responsible for two attacks on Chinese oil operations late last year. This group has denied any involvement in this attack. There are also allegations that the men were held by local tribesmen who, say the people of South Kordofan, aren't receiving a fair share of the oil revenues taken out of the energy-rich region.
The United States condemns all violence in Sudan. The widespread insecurity threatens everyone there, from private citizens to foreign workers to international aid workers and even the international peacekeepers working to settle the unrest. The United Nations Mission in the Sudan should fully implement its mandate immediately in response to such troubling acts to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.