Chinese hostage fled Chadian captors by ‘undoing chains’

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NDJAMENA: A Chinese engineer kidnapped in Chad said Saturday he had fled from captivity after unshackling himself from his chains while his abductors slept and fleeing to neighboring Sudan.

"The day before yesterday (Thursday) when it was late at night and everyone was sleeping I undid my chains and escaped," said the man, after arriving in the Chadian capital from Sudan by plane.

"I ran to the Sudanese border about 80 kilometers (50 miles) away and there I met Sudanese soldiers," he said, adding that eight people had kidnapped him and his driver and driven them towards the Sudanese border.

The engineer, who had been working on a water supply project and is an employee of CGCOC-Chad, the local affiliate of a Chinese construction company, said he did not know why he was targeted.

There have been conflicting accounts of events leading to his freedom.

Chadian officials said he was freed after joint military action with Sudan and his kidnappers had been arrested. But a former Sudanese rebel faction said it had liberated the engineer although the abductors had managed to escape.

A spokesman for the Minni Minnawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Army, Zonan Suliman, said the kidnappers had escaped without clashing with the ex-rebels.

The Minnawi faction is the only Darfur rebel group to have signed a peace deal and ended its conflict with the Khartoum government.

Chad and Sudan have strengthened their ties since Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of war crimes and genocide in Darfur, attended a regional summit in N’Djamena in July.

Darfur has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 that has left 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced, according to the United Nations.

The Khartoum government says 10,000 have been killed in the conflict.

The strife-torn region of western Sudan has seen a wave of kidnappings since March 2009, when the ICC indicted Bashir for alleged war crimes.

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