Nigeria`s rebel group releases identities of 7 hostages

Nigeria`s main militant group has released the identities of seven oil workers whom it kidnapped this week from an offshore oil rig of the country.

Last Updated: Nov 12, 2010, 19:21 PM IST

Abuja: Nigeria`s main militant group has
released the identities of seven oil workers whom it kidnapped
this week from an offshore oil rig of the country.

In an e-mail statement, Movement for the Emancipation
of the Niger Delta`s spokesman Jomo Gbomo said the oil workers
abducted in southeast Akwa Ibom State were James Robertson,
Jeffrey James (both from the US), Patrick Weber, Mignon Gilles
(both from France), Robert Croke (Canada), Robert Tampubolon
and Permana Nugraha (both from Indonesia).

"As earlier reported, we took custody of three French
nationals and one Thai national abducted about 2 months ago by
a militia group in the Niger Delta. Owing to their generally
poor state of health, we were compelled to release them on
humanitarian grounds," the MEND wrote in the statement.

The group said the abduction of the seven expatriates
from the Shallow-water okoro oilfield in Akwa Ibom state was
to prevent the oil rich African country`s government from
denying the attack on this facility.

"The seven individuals are all in good health and will
be in our custody for a while," it said.
On Wednesday, three French oil workers held captive
for barely two months in the restive oil rich delta region
regained their freedom.

Those whose names were released today were abducted on
Monday when the militants attacked an oil rig managed by Afren
Plc?s, an oil service company.

Before they were taken hostage, MEND issued a
statement threatening to carry out more attacks on oil
installations in the region.

MEND had claimed responsibility for a deadly bomb
blast that killed 14 people during the country`s 50th
independence anniversary on October 1.

The oil-rich region of Nigeria is notorious for
unrestricted pirate activities.

During a presidential pardon last year, some militants
operating in the area exchanged their arms for some monetary
compensation promising to stop their activities.

Since 2006, militants in the Niger Delta region have
attacked oil installations, kidnapped oil workers and fought
government troops requesting for the control of the resources
in the area.

PTI