The kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan panicked when they saw a military aircraft fly overhead and killed five of their hostages, a Sudanese government official said, contradicting Chinese claims of a botched rescue attempt.
The aircraft was monitoring the hostages, said Mohammed Doureik, the commissioner of Abyei in the province of south Kordofan where the October 18 kidnapping took place.
"There were no clashes. There was a slight panic when they saw the plane and they killed the them," said Doureik, who has been following negotiations with tribal leaders for the release of the remaining hostages.
Two hostages had escaped and a third was handed over Tuesday to local tribal chiefs, leaving the ninth Chinese oil worker unaccounted for, he added.
China, however, say the kidnappers killed five of the nine hostages during a Sudanese rescue operation.
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