Friday, January 27, 2006

Four Hostages 'Going Nowhere," Kidnappers Say

In a report that contradicts more positive spin coming from the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Guardian of Nigeria reports in a breaking news summary today that their kidnappers say four hostages taken from Royal Dutch Shell's Benisede oil platform offshore Bayelsa State are "going nowehere."

Here is the Guardian's report:

Nigeria gang issue hostage photo
Nigerian kidnappers holding four foreign oil workers have issued a first picture of the captives, who appear relaxed and in good health. But the gang denied reports they were close to handing over their captives. In an e-mail to the Reuters news agency, the group holding the men said the foreigners were "going nowhere".

The men were seized 17 days ago in the Niger Delta region in an armed raid by militants demanding more control over resources in the region. Nigerian government officials had suggested that the four men could be freed at short notice after negotiations. State negotiators and security chiefs released the image of the four hostages - a Briton, an American, a Bulgarian and one man from Honduras - and boosted hopes that they could be freed. However, the kidnappers' denial came twinned with threats of imminent new attacks. "I promised you the hostages were going nowhere in spite of the rumours and repeat that to you," the e-mail to Reuters read. The group holding the men, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has launched several attacks on oil interests in the region. They are demanding the release of two ethnic Ijaw leaders currently in detention, and freer access by local people to the area's vast oil resources. Royal Dutch Shell, the largest oil producer in the Niger Delta, has cut production capacity and withdrawn hundreds of staff pending discussion on security with Nigeria's government.

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