Nigerian abductors release 24 hostages
Abductors have released all 24 Filipino seamen they had been holding captive in the creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta since January 20.Updated: Feb 13, 2007, 16:35 IST
Nigerian abductors have released all 24 Filipino seamen they had been holding captive in the creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta since January 20, the men's employer, German shipping firm Baco-Liner, said on Tuesday.
"All 24 hostages are on board our vessel, Baco-Liner 2, and they're on their way to Warri now where they will be handed over directly to our agent," a spokesman for the company said, referring to the main city in the western delta.
He said the men were tired but in good health.
Another seven foreign hostages seized by different armed groups are still in captivity in the delta, where violence against expatriates and against the oil industry is on the rise.
The abductors said they had freed the Filipino hostages "on humanitarian grounds" without receiving any ransom.
Most abductions in the anarchic Niger Delta are resolved after money changes hands.
The group, which said it was the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), reiterated demands including the release of two jailed leaders from the delta and the payment of compensation to local villages for oil spills.
MEND was responsible for a series of attacks a year ago in the western delta that forced the closure of 500,000 barrels per day in oil output, a fifth of Nigeria's total capacity. That production has yet to resume.
But the person who has always spoken for MEND since the faceless group emerged in late 2005 has repeatedly said the group was not involved in the abduction of the 24 Filipinos.