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Two Indian oil workers abducted by South Sudan rebels freed: Officials

The Indians, both from Tamil Nadu, were abducted on March 8 and while Jamali from Sindh in Pakistan was captured on March 19.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2017 01:39 IST
Agencies, Khartoum
Indians abducted in South Sudan,Oil Engineers abducted in South Sudan,South Sudan
Security forces patrol near an oilfield in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State.(Reuters File)

Two Indians abducted by South Sudanese rebels have been released after negotiations brokered by Sudan and Ethiopia, security officials in the war-torn country said Thursday.

According to AFP, Indians Midhun Ganesh and Edward Ambrose and Pakistani Ayaz Hussein Jamali, who worked for DAR Petroleum, were captured separately from near their workplaces earlier this month in oil-rich Upper Nile state.

According to South Sudan government, the Indians, both from Tamil Nadu, were abducted on March 8 and while Jamali from Sindh in Pakistan was captured on March 19.

“Following requests from Indian and Pakistani governments, the Sudanese and Ethiopian governments coordinated together to secure the release of the three oil workers,” Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service said in a statement.

It did not specify when the hostages were released. Officials said NISS coordinated the release of the hostages.

The three were brought to Khartoum on Thursday in a special aircraft from Ethiopia, an AFP correspondent reported.

“We were not tortured or ill-treated by our captors,” Ganesh, 26, told AFP.

“They kidnapped us in order to tell the international community that foreigners should leave South Sudan,” Jamali told reporters at the airport.

“The rebels want to shut down all oil processing plants in South Sudan,” he said.

According to Reuters, the three had been released on the orders of the rebels’ leader, former vice president Riek Machar, and were on their way to government areas, Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) said.

Earlier, SPLA-IO spokesman William Gatjiath Deng claimed that the Indians were working for the South Sudan government led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. He said the Indians “refused to respect repeated warnings from the military command of the armed opposition”.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation formed after splitting from the north in 2011, has been wracked by civil war since December 2013.

The conflict erupted after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

The violence has left tens of thousands dead and more than three million displaced.

Oil production -- from which South Sudan gained 98 percent of its revenues on its independence five-and-a-half years ago -- has plummeted by more than half and the country is struggling to halt rampant inflation.

First Published: Mar 31, 2017 01:22 IST