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The Times: Nigeria in contact with oil worker kidnappers

From Agencies in Davos
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria today said that his government was in contact with kidnappers who are holding four foreign oil workers, including one Briton, captive in the country.
Mr Obasanjo told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the authorities were “very much in contact” with the militant group that seized the oil workers on January 11.
He added: “Immediately after it happened, we set up a committee … It’s not only in contact, it’s making progress.”
Asked if he was concerned about the impact on oil investment, Obasanjo told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland: “Not really.”
Last week, Nigel Watson-Clark, from Bristol, who is being held hostage with three other foreign oil workers by separatist rebels in western Nigeria made a second desperate telephone plea for help today as his captors again threatened their execution.
In the chilling phone call to Reuters, Mr Watson-Clark said: “I have got to tell you we are under a lot of pressure here and things aren’t too good.
“We are being moved around continuously… we are not being treated that great… we are not used to this sort of stuff.”
Mr Watson-Clark was kidnapped with an American, a Honduran and a Bulgarian when armed rebels from the indigenous Ijaw tribe attacked an offshore oil platform in the Niger Delta owned by Royal Dutch Shell.
The kidnappers, from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), have demanded greater control over the poverty-stricken region's energy wealth and the release of two tribal leaders.
The first 48-hour deadline was issued on Tuesday. Today, a man describing himself as the outfit's ground commander claimed that Patrick Landry, the American hostage, was seriously ill. He said that the others would be killed if he died.
In a phone call broadcast on Sky News, he said: “One of them is sick, badly sick and could give up tonight. If one of them dies, we kill them all.”

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