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Chinese Hostages Released In Nigeria
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Five Chinese telecoms workers who were kidnapped in Nigeria on January 5 were released safely on Wednesday night, Chinese sources in Lagos said on Thursday.

After an initial medical examination, doctors said that the five workers are physically weak but in overall good health.

The workers told a Xinhua correspondent they had not washed for the past two weeks.

They will arrive in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Thursday morning, the sources said.
In Beijing on Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry thanked the Nigerian side for their support and assistance in securing the release of the kidnapped Chinese workers.

The five Chinese workers were kidnapped by armed robbers from their residence in Rumuakunde Emouha, a village about 35 km away from Port Harcourt, the capital of Nigeria's south state of Rivers.

A crisis management team composed of Chinese embassy officials in Abuja and the China's Sichuan Telecommunication Company, the workers' employer, went to Port Harcourt to seek their release.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has directed the Nigerian authorities to lend their full support to the Chinese team.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao directed the foreign ministry and China's embassy and consulate in Nigeria to make every attempt to rescue the kidnapped workers.

The Chinese telecom company was involved in the Nigerian rural telephone project which, when completed and put into operation, will help improve telecommunication service in various rural areas in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with a population of over 140 million.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing spoke by telephone with his Nigerian counterpart Joy Ogwu about the matter.

Rivers State is located in the oil-rich but troubled Niger Delta where frequent kidnappings of foreign workers have taken place since the beginning of 2006 although this is the first time that Chinese workers were targeted.

(Xinhua News Agency, January 18, 2007)

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