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CNBC: India says 4 oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria are safe

Updated: 1:02 p.m. ET Oct. 29, 2007

LAGOS, Nigeria – Four Indian oil workers who were kidnapped in the Niger Delta region last week are safe, officials said Monday.

The Indians were among six foreign workers abducted at dawn Friday from an oil facility off the coast of Nigeria. The other hostages are Polish, according to Italian energy giant Eni SpA.

Eni had originally reported that the hostages included Nigerians and at least one Filipino.

“There is confirmation of the news that four (Indian nationals) are safe and unharmed,” said Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna.

Militants have kidnapped more than 150 foreigners this year to press their demands for local control of oil revenues. The attacks since late 2005 have cut Nigeria’s regular output by about 20 percent, helping send crude prices to all-time highs.

Locals have for years demanded a greater share of the wealth in Africa’s largest crude producer, and the region remains desperately poor despite its great natural resources.

The government of President Umaru Yar’Adua has stepped increased efforts to maintain calm in the Niger Delta, and violence has waned since he took power May 29. But the latest attacks could set back plans for formal talks between the government and the main armed groups.

A militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

MEND, as it is called, also has claimed responsibility for an attack earlier this month on an offshore oil field operated by Royal Dutch Shell. Militants kidnapped seven workers _ Nigerian, British, Croatian and South African _ but released them after two days.

The group, which threatened last month to resume attacks after one of its leaders was arrested in Angola, vowed to continue the violence.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/21015060/for/cnbc

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