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UpstreamOnline: Hostages freed from Shell platform

Thursday 12 October 2006

By Upstream staff

Armed villagers who invaded an oil facility operated by Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell in the Nigerian delta have freed most of the scores of workers and troops they took captive, the company and police said today.

The attack by the Oporoma community in Bayelsa state forced Shell to shut the Nun River platform, which pumps 12,000 barrels per day of crude, further denting output from Africa’s top producer after a week-long resurgence of violence.

“So far we have only eight people still left in the custody of the militants,” Bayelsa police commissioner Hafiz Ringim told Reuters.

“God willing, they will all be released today,” he said by telephone from the state capital Yenagoa.

A shell spokesman said state government officials were still negotiating with the attackers to free the remaining hostages.

Shell had said yesterday that about 60 people were on the facility when gun-toting youths from the Oporoma village overran it and herded everybody into captivity in a feud over community benefits.

Seven foreign oil workers are still missing after an unprecedented attack last week on a residential compound for ExxonMobil contractors in Eket, in Akwa Ibom state in the eastern delta, in which two Nigerian security guards were killed.

Militants have fought a series of gun battles with troops since then in the creeks of the eastern delta, forcing Shell to shut a 9,000 barrel-a-day platform at Ekulama on Monday.

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