Six foreign hostages, including ailing US oil hostage Macon
Hawkins, who turned 69 on Wednesday, has been released after being
held captive by militants for 11 days in Nigeria's oil-rich
"Six hostages have arrived at the government house in Warri. We
saw them," a local reporter told Xinhua from the oil city by phone.
The remaining three are two Americans and one Briton.
"That's correct, the Thai, Egyptians and Filipino have been
released," confirmed Jomo Gbomo, a self-described spokesman for the
militants, via email to Xinhua.
The first to be released was US oil hostage Macon Hawkins, who
turned 69 on Wednesday.
"He was released on account of his age and poor health with a
stern warning not to return to the Niger Delta unless as a visitor.
If he heeds this warning is entirely up to him." said Jomo Gbomo,
in an email statement to Xinhua.
Hawkins, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, had
reportedly said he wanted "freedom" as his birthday gift when the
militants displayed him before reporters on the Escravos River in
southern Nigeria last week.
Gbomo said the American was released to a group of foreign
journalists found to be touring the Niger Delta, where the majority
of Nigeria's daily output of 2.5 million barrels of oil is
"No ransom for him or any other hostage has been demanded or
received," he said.
Hawkins was abducted along with eight hostages, including two
Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino,
were seized on February 18 by the militants belonging to the
self-styled Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
"The remaining three westerners will be held indefinitely. We
are not in talks with the Nigerian government and will continue
with our campaign, striking at the most valuable of targets in the
oil industry," their abductors said in an email to Xinhua.
The militants reiterated their warnings that they will launch
fresh attacks on oil facilities in another area of the Niger Delta
with an aim to ensuring the "total discontinuation" of export of
"The delay in the commencement of this strike is to ensure its
effectiveness by concentrating our resources towards one huge
crippling blow to the Nigerian oil industry," the spokesman for the
The militants insisted that they will compromise on its demands
for the release two ethnic Ijaw leaders, payment of compensation to
Ijaw communities affected by Shell spillages and the control of the
resources of the Niger Delta by its indigenes. They also demanded
the intervention of a neutral arbiter in the resolution of this
Recent attacks by the militants on oil facilities in the west
African country, the largest oil producer in Africa, has cut
production by 455,000 barrels per day (bpd) of production, or 19
percent the country's total output, and help push up world oil
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2006)