Workers cover the coffins of the killed Chinese workers with red Chinese flags before unloading them from an aircraft at the airport in Khartoum on Tuesday, October 28, 2008. [Xinhua]
The bodies of the three Chinese workers killed by kidnappers in Sudan were transferred to the airport in Khartoum late Tuesday.
A dozen Chinese peacekeepers saluted the coffins covered in red Chinese flags, Shanghai Daily reported.
The kidnappers of the nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan panicked when they saw a military aircraft and killed at least three of their hostages, Sudanese officials said Tuesday.
The aircraft was monitoring the hostages, said Mohammed Doureik, the commissioner of Abyei in the province of south Kordofan where the October 18 abduction took place.
"There were no clashes. There was a panic when they saw the plane and they killed them," said Doureik, who has been following negotiations with tribal leaders for the release of the remaining hostages.
Originally the Sudanese government said four had been killed, but the undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry, Mutrif Siddiq, said that only three of the Chinese workers were confirmed dead and three others were injured and now receiving medical care. The remaining three are missing.
Siddiq said the kidnappers planned to take the hostages over into neighboring Darfur according to communications intercepted between the kidnappers and the rebels who operate there.
The Sudan government’s forces are now scouring all the hiding places to search for the missing, he added.
Sudan's Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein called the murders a "terrorist act", and Foreign Ministry officials said there would be new measures to protect foreign interests.
China on Tuesday condemned the killings, urging the African nation to take all measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals.
"We feel strong indignation and condemn the terrorist act by the kidnappers on unarmed Chinese company staff," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press conference in Beijing.
(Shanghai Daily October 29, 2008)