The Sudanese rebels who kidnapped 29 Chinese road workers in the volatile South Kordofan region are prepared to release them, a rebel spokesman said Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), said in a telephone interview that “all the Chinese workers are safe. We are planning to have them released very soon.” Lodi said the group gave up its insistence that Sudan implement a ceasefire in the Kordofan area and denied speculation of Chinese ransom payment in return for the workers’ freedom. A Sudanese government spokesman, Rabie Abdelaty, said “our armed forces are continuing with the military operations. We expect the workers to be freed as early as Tuesday.” China’s Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to reports Monday afternoon that the hostages’ release was imminent, citing security concerns.