Group hits Sudan oilfield

KHARTOUM - A Darfur rebel group has attacked a Sudanese oilfield and kidnapped a Canadian and an Iraqi worker, a leader of the group said yesterday, vowing further attacks unless foreign oil companies pulled out.

KHARTOUM - A Darfur rebel group has attacked a Sudanese oilfield and kidnapped a Canadian and an Iraqi worker, a leader of the group said yesterday, vowing further attacks unless foreign oil companies pulled out.

"We attacked the Defra oilfield and kidnapped two foreign workers, one is Canadian and another an Iraqi," said Abdelaziz el-Nur Ashr, field commander of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Kordofan, a region east of Darfur.

He said the attack took place on Tuesday, with Darfur peace talks due to begin in Libya tomorrow.

The Islamist JEM has said it will not attend the negotiations, which it has derided as "a masquerade". The oilfield is run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a consortium involving China's CNPC, India's ONGC, Malaysia's Petronas and Sudan's Sudapet.

Defra produces more than half of about 500000 barrels per day pumped out in Sudan, most of which is exported to China.

The attack came during a visit to Khartoum by Beijing's Darfur envoy Liu Guijin, who said that "the Darfur issue is developing generally towards a positive direction in spite of some difficulties".

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao confirmed reports that the oilfield in Darfur had been attacked, but said Chinese citizens there were safe.

There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from the Khartoum government. - Sapa-AFP

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