Three Western oil workers, including two Americans and a Briton,
held in Nigeria's troubled oil-rich Niger Delta by militants for
more than one month, have been released, a state government
spokesman said on Monday.
"They were be released to the state government at about 3:20 AM
(02:20 GMT) this morning," the Delta State spokesman told Xinhua by
telephone. "They are all in good health and with (Royal Dutch)
Shell officials, their employer."
He said the government had assured the Ijaw militants belonging
to Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that
they would not be attacked by the Nigerian army after the
The MEND is not immediately available for comments.
The three hostages were seized along with six others on February
18 from a vessel laying a pipeline for by the militants in
retaliation for military bombardment of their strongholds on the
ground of rooting out oil thieves. The six others, however, were
Originally, the militants are insisting on the demilitarization
of the delta as a condition for the release. They also vowed not to
compromise on its demands for the release of two ethnic Ijaw
leaders, payment of US$1.5 billion compensation to Ijaw communities
affected by Shell spillages.
Nigeria's oil output has been cut by about 630,000 barrels per
day, or a quarter, after four-month attacks on oil facilities by
the militants led by the MEND in the Niger Delta, the oil industry
heartland in Africa's biggest oil exporter.
(Xinhua News Agency March 27, 2006)