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Monday, August 20, 2001, updated at 22:23(GMT+8)

China "Distressed" at Hostage Killings in Philippines

China is "shocked and distressed" at the killings of two Chinese hostages in the Philippines, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said Monday.

Sun said this when asked to comment on the reported killings of two Chinese men held hostage by kidnappers in the Philippines.

On August 19, in a gunbattle between the Philippine government troops and the kidnappers, two of the four Chinese men held hostage by the kidnappers were killed, one was rescued and the fourth man is still missing, Sun said.

The four Chinese men were kidnapped in the Philippines on June 20, and the Chinese government has shown serious concern over the issue ever since, Sun said.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines have made a series of efforts and repeated representations with the Philippine government and people concerned, urging the Philippine side to ensure the hostages' safety, and with their safety as precondition, to promote their early release, Sun stressed.

The Philippine side has also promised many times that they would ensure the hostages' safety, and solve the crisis through peaceful negotiations, Sun noted.

After the disaster, China has requested the Philippine government to give a full account of the matter, and strongly demanded the Philippine side to take measures necessary to ensure the absolute safety of the Chinese citizens in that country, and properly deal with the aftermath of the killings.

Philippine President Regrets Killing

Philippine Presidential Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regrets the killing of two of the four Chinese hostages Sunday when government troops engaged their captors, presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said Monday.

The government has already informed the Chinese Embassy on the incident and that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) are now condoling with the families of the victims, Tiglao said at a press briefing here.

The Chinese Embassy, expressing shock and pain at the deaths of the hostages Sunday and requested an immediate explanation of the incident from the Philippine government.

It also strongly demanded that the Philippine government take all necessary measures to safeguard the lives of the hostages still alive and those of all Chinese citizens in the country.

According to the military, government soldiers engaged about 60 kidnap gang members Sunday morning in Colombio town in the southern province of Sultan Kudarat. During the fire fight, two of the Chinese hostages, Zhang Zhongyi and Xue Xing, tried to flee but were immediately shot dead by their captors while a third, Wang Shengli, managed to escape and was recovered.

The three Chinese nationals, together with a Filipino Chinese, Edwin Lim, were seized in Sultan Kudarat's neighboring province of Maguindanao on August 12 while reportedly delivering ransom money for the release of Zhang Zhongqiang, Zhang Zhongyi's brother.

The four Chinese nationals are employees of the China Electric Power Technology Import and Export Corp. working on an irrigation project in North Cotabato province. Zhang Zhongqiang was kidnapped in Maguindanao on June 20 while returning to the project site from a shopping trip.

Tiglao said the military will continue its operations against the abductors. The military are hoping that their pursuit operations "could yield results in the next few days," he added.

AFP spokesman Brigadier General Edilberto Adan said earlier Monday that the remaining hostages are believed to be held by their captors somewhere in areas straddling Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

In This Section

China is "shocked and distressed" at the killings of two Chinese hostages in the Philippines, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said Monday.

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