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Khaleej Times Online: Lebanese, Indian hostages freed in Nigeria

(Reuters)

LAGOS – Two hostages, one Lebanese and the other Indian, were released on Sunday after they were abducted two days ago in Nigeria’s oil producing delta region, local authorities said.

The two construction workers, employed by Nigerian firm Setraco, were taken at gunpoint from their workplace near the city of Warri on Friday.

‘All the waterways were blocked so they had no way to move further into the creeks, so they were released,’ said Brigadier General Alfred Ilogho, who heads a military task force in the area.

A security source said the two men had been captured by a local gang which wanted to make some quick cash, but Ilogho said no ransom was paid.

A Dutch security manager, who was kidnapped in a separate incident by another armed group on the same day, is still in captivity.

Thousands of foreign oil workers have left the Niger Delta since February last year, when a new militant group staged a series of attacks that forced Royal Dutch Shell to shut a fifth of Nigeria’s oil production.

The militancy has fuelled lawlessness in the vast wetlands region, and kidnapping foreigners for ransom has become an almost weekly occurrence this year.

Poverty and bad government lie at the root of the violence in the Niger Delta, where impoverished fishing settlements host multi-billion dollar oil facilities. 
 
25 March 2007

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