(Adds arrival in Khartoum)
JUBA, March 30 South Sudanese rebels said on
Thursday they had freed three oil workers from Pakistan and
India that their fighters had seized earlier this month.
The three were released on the orders of the rebels' leader,
former vice president Riek Machar, his SPLA-IO group said.
The Pakistani national worked for DAR, a consortium
including China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China's
Sinopec and Malaysia's Petronas, in Upper Nile state.
The two Indians working for South Sudan's petroleum ministry
were kidnapped in northeast Maiwut county.
The three men were flown to Khartoum via Addis Ababa after
their release, a Sudanese foreign ministry official told
reporters at Khartoum airport when the oil workers arrived.
He said Sudan and Ethiopia had contacted the rebels, at the
request of India and Pakistan, to secure the freedom of their
One of the released men said his rebel captors had told him
to pass a message to foreign oil companies to stop operating in
South Sudan because oil revenues were being used to fund war.
SPLA-IO deputy spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel said there were no
orders given in relation to locals who were seized alongside the
foreigners and they would continue to be held.
South Sudan, which split away from Sudan in 2011 after
decades of conflict, has been mired in civil war since President
Salva Kiir sacked Machar in 2013.
The fighting has forced millions to flee their homes, split
much of the population along ethnic lines and paralysed
agriculture, leaving the country facing famine, according to the
(Reporting by Denis Dumo in Juba and Khalid Abdelaziz in
Khartoum; Writing by Duncan Miriri and Dominic Evans; Editing by
Andrew Heavens and Hugh Lawson)