Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kidnappers free foreign oil workers

Three British oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria have been freed, it has emerged.

The men and a Colombian colleague were seized at gunpoint last Tuesday on their way to work at a plant near Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta.

Nigerian police spokeswoman Rita Inoma-Abbey said the men, contractors working for Shell, were released on Monday night and "all of them look good". She did not say if a ransom had been paid.

Shell was unable to confirm the men had been freed.

A spokesman for the firm said: "We can't confirm it right now - we are looking into it and waiting for word."

The Foreign Office told the BBC it was aware of the reports and was making inquiries.

The men were kidnapped as they travelled by bus to the plant, and an ensuing gunfight left one police officer travelling with the workers dead and another man injured.

They were the first such workers seized from the unstable oil rich region in months.

Militants in the troubled Niger Delta have attacked pipelines, kidnapped petrol company employees and fought government troops since January 2006.

They want the federal government to send more oil industry funds to Nigeria's southern region, which remains poor despite five decades of oil production.

Ealing Gazette

Related stories: Gunmen seize Britons in Nigeria oil city Port Harcourt

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