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Indian oil worker kidnapped in Sudan returns home

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June 13, 2008 (MUMBAI) — An Indian oil technician, who was kidnapped in Sudan by tribesmen but escaped and walked for days through scrubland and forest to safety, returned home here on Friday.

Mohamed Adeeb Shaikh, who said he survived after fleeing his abductors by drinking his urine, was found by police who helped him reach the Indian embassy in Khartoum last week.

Shaikh flew back Friday afternoon, aided by a friend, to Mumbai’s eastern suburb.

"I felt I would never reach home. As I escaped, the only thought racing through my head was to not give up hope," Shaikh told media.

"I kept walking to reach a remote road ... at times I drank my own urine when there was no water," said Shaikh, who appeared to be in good health and unharmed.

Three other oil workers were abducted along with Shaikh and their Sudanese driver on May 13 in an area adjoining Sudan’s disputed oil district of Abyei.

Tribesmen were believed to have been behind the abduction, which marked the first time Indians have been kidnapped in the oil-rich African country.

Shaikh worked for Petro Energy Contracting Services, which does work for the Greater Nile Petroleum Operation — a consortium of four companies led by China’s CNPC, India’s ONGC, Malaysia’s Petronas and Sudan’s state-owned Sudapet.

Shaikh’s family celebrated his return by distributing traditional sweets in the neighbourhood.

"It is Allah’s grace that he is back," said the man’s uncle, Bismillah Siddique.

Shaikh said he would not return to Sudan: "I will not go back, I want to work here and be with family."

Sudan’s Abyei and surrounding areas are prey to sporadic violence between tribes aligned either with the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum or with the administration in the south despite a 2005 peace deal to end the civil war.

Petro Energy Contracting Services, which provides technical services to the oil industry, employs 75 Indians in Sudan.

Indian media had earlier reported that some workers wanted to leave Sudan.

"Workers who are not keen to work (in Sudan) should be allowed to leave," Shaikh said.

Two days after the group’s abduction, the United Nations evacuated its entire civilian staff of 259 people from Abyei following clashes between Sudanese government troops and southern forces.

(AFP)

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