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Bloomberg: Nigerian Militants Release Six Chevron Oil Workers Held Hostage

By Karl Maier

June 2 (Bloomberg) — Nigeria’s main militant group freed six Chevron Corp. workers held hostage since May 1, a spokesman for the group said.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, handed the four Italians, one American and one Croatian over to the governor of Bayelsa state at 11:30 a.m. local time, a spokesman for the group, Jomo Gbomo, said today in an e-mailed statement. Italy’s foreign ministry confirmed the release, the Italian news agency Ansa reported.

“This release in no way signifies our intention to halt abductions, but a preparedness to dialogue with a willing government,” Gbomo said. “We will suspend attacks on oil installations for one month.”

Gbomo called on President Umaru Yar’Adua’s government, which took office May 29, to take measures to bring about peace in the Niger River delta.

MEND has attacked oil installations in the Niger Delta for the past year in a campaign to cripple Africa’s biggest oil industry. Its raids have forced Royal Dutch Shell Plc and other oil companies to halt output totaling more than 600,000 barrels a day, more than a quarter of the country’s production.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karl Maier in Khartoum at [email protected]

Last Updated: June 2, 2007 08:15 EDT 

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