Ten Indian nationals, abducted in Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers State over a fortnight ago, have been freed by their captors, officials in the Ministry of External Affairs said in the Capital on Saturday.
Among those released were several employees and family members of the multinational Indorama company, including the managing director of its Nigerian unit, Arun Taneja. Two women and two children were among the 10 kidnapped from their homes in southern Nigeria on June 1.
The release was secured after Indorama flew in a senior official to negotiate with the kidnappers. Some reports, however, said the move followed the release on bail of former militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari on Thursday.
In a related development, two Indians were among five more foreign workers abducted in southern Nigeria. The Indian High Commission in Nigeria has again called on Indian nationals not to stay in or travel to the Niger Delta region till the law and order situation improves.
MEA officials said the matter has been taken up at the highest level with the Nigerian government, and the new President, Umaru Yar’Adua, has tried to extend an olive branch to many of the rebel militia. They added that Indians are not being particularly targeted, and the kidnappers’ main motivation is usually monetary.
The Indian community in Nigeria is 30,000-strong, engaged in trading and manufacturing or working as professionals. Many Indians are employed in the southern oil heartland, where militants have kidnapped some 100 foreign workers since the beginning of this year.