Friday, May 12, 2006

Three foreign oil workers freed in Nigeria: police

Fri May 12, 2006 5:55am ET
By Austin Ekeinde

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - Three foreign oil workers, including an Italian, taken hostage in Nigeria's oil capital Port Harcourt were released on Friday after a day in captivity, police said.
The employees of Italian oil contractor Saipem were abducted at gunpoint by members of a community where Saipem was working and which was in dispute with the company over compensation for environmental damage.
"They have been released. The issues of disagreement must have been resolved," Rivers State Police Commissioner Samuel Agbetuyi told Reuters by telephone.
A Bukuma community leader, Mbaka Harmony, told a local radio station that that the community was demanding 300 million naira ($2.3 million) in compensation for damage caused by Saipem's laying of a pipeline through the area.
In Rome, the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed the release of the Italian national, Vito Macrina, and the two other men.
The kidnapping was unrelated to a five-month campaign of sabotage, bombings and kidnapping against Nigeria's Western-run oil industry by militants fighting for more economic autonomy in Nigeria's far south.
The attacks by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have reduced Nigerian oil exports by a quarter since February.

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