MEND Foils Rescue Of British Hostages

Posted by The PM News on 2009/01/19 | Views: |

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MEND Foils Rescue Of British Hostages

Militants, yesterday, claimed that the Nigerian military has failed in its attempt to liberate two British hostages held captive in Nigeria’s restive southern oil region.

Militants, yesterday, claimed that the Nigerian military has failed in its attempt to liberate two British hostages held captive in Nigeria’s restive southern oil region.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), in an e-mail message, claimed that the overnight mission caused the militants to separate the British victims and move them deeper into the region’s vast network of creeks and mangrove swamps.

The militants said the hostages weren’t in the village where the military launched its attack, which the militants said left some men, women and children dead.

In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen attacked vessels near a crude-oil loading installation, late Saturday and one crew member was killed, a private security official said, yesterday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to company prohibitions on dealings with the news media, said the gunmen had initially tried to board an oil tanker, but turned their sites on smaller service vessels after failing to board the tanker. Some crew members were reportedly kidnapped, but no details were immediately available, the official said.

A military spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment. The British hostages are among 27 oil workers, including five expatriates, kidnapped by militants when their vessel was hijacked on 9 September. The other hostages were later released.

The militants are behind nearly three years of rising violence in the Niger Delta, where over 200 foreign workers have been kidnapped. The hostages are normally released after a ransom is paid.

The militants say their deeply impoverished areas have not benefited from over five decades of oil production, and they are agitating for more federally-held oil funds to be sent to the southern oil states.

The government acknowledges the grievances of many in the Niger Delta, but denounces the militants as criminals who use their struggle as a cover to make money by stealing crude oil and selling it overseas.

Corrupt government officials, however, also siphon and sell oil, and many state-level politicians are linked to the militants and other armed gangs, whom they hire to rig elections. Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer, but attacks on the industry’s infrastructure have reduced production by almost a quarter.

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