Abducted Chinese workers are safe

08:32, May 18, 2010      

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Two Chinese oil workers who were abducted by tribesmen in Yemen over the weekend are in good condition and negotiations with the kidnappers are underway, embassy officials said.

Armed Yemeni tribesmen in the southeastern province of Shabwa took the two Chinese men hostage along with four Yemeni escorts - two guards and two drivers - on Sunday.

"The abduction was triggered by some conflicts between local tribesmen and the Yemeni government," Chen Jian, political counselor of the Chinese embassy in Sanaa told China Daily.

The two Chinese men are employed by Zhongyuan Oilfield Company, Chinese Ambassador to Yemen Liu Denglin was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Headquartered in Henan province, the company is a major oil and gas producer in eastern China, and the biggest well drilling contractor in Yemen.

The company told China Daily that it is trying to confirm the news, while Chen said he has talked with Yemeni officials.

"The two Chinese workers are in good condition. They called their employers in the middle of the day today and said the locals are friendly to them," Chen said. He told China Daily that negotiations with the kidnappers are proceeding.

"Our top priority now is to ensure a safe release of the hostages." The six workers were to stay in a local inn on Sunday night, Xinhua reported.

The site of the kidnapping is in the area of al-Kamoush tribe, near al-Lahya district, where such incidents happen often. A local senior security official told Xinhua that the workers were abducted early Sunday afternoon, but the case was not complicated.

Reuters reported that the abductors were trying to pressure authorities in a local criminal dispute, using the Chinese as bargaining chips. Tribesmen have often detained foreigners in the Arabian Peninsula country to press for demands from authorities, the agency said.

On the same day of the kidnapping, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi called for Chinese companies to visit the country and to investigate investment opportunities in industries such as tourism, reported Yemeni news agency Saba. The minister made the comment in Shanghai on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Arab-China Cooperation Forum that took place in Tianjin last week.

Source: China Daily
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