Filipinos released in Niger Delta

Nigerian kidnappers who seized 24 Filipinos from the country's oil-rich Delta region have freed all the men, government officials have said.

The group of seamen were kidnapped from their vessel, owned by a German shipping firm, on 20 January.

The men were released without a ransom being paid following the intervention of local elders, reports said.

Armed gangs regularly target foreign workers in the Niger Delta region, and currently hold at least seven hostages.

"All 24 hostages are on board our vessel, Baco-Liner 2, and they're on their way to Warri now," a spokesman for German shipping firm Baco-Liner told Reuters.

The hostage-taking, one of two cases involving Filipino workers in the region in January, prompted the Philippine president to ban workers travelling to Nigeria.

Nigeria is one of Africa's biggest employers of Filipino workers, employing some 3,900 at the end of 2006.

In recent months, attacks by the militants have escalated, causing oil multinationals to evacuate thousands of workers from the western side of the region.

The violence has cut crude production in Africa's biggest oil exporter by nearly a quarter.

13/02/2007

Bron : BBC News

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