Kidnappers Release Two German Oil Workers

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Two German hostages working with an oil servicing company in the Niger Delta were Saturday freed by kidnappers in the Niger Delta.

German Foreign, Guido Westerwelle, said in a statement, in Abuja, that the kidnappers released the two men somewhere near Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Westerwelle said the men were in good condition and would remain in Nigeria.

The minister did not say whether his government or the men’s employers paid a ransom for their release.

“I thank the crisis committee and the German and Nigerian authorities involved for their untiring work, which made a fast and happy end possible,” Westerwelle said.

The Tide recalls that unidentified gunmen kidnapped the two men as they visited a beach April 18 along the Imo River in Abia State.

The men had started walking back to their car where their driver waited when gunmen seized them.

The two Germans apparently travelled to the area, long known for its instability, without any guards.

Criminals, who brand themselves as militants in the area, have targeted oil workers for kidnapping in the past during their campaign to bring more oil money to a region that suffered environmental damage and economic neglect over 50 years of oil production.

However, criminal gangs increasingly target wealthy Nigerians and politicians for kidnappings, as well as foreigners who stumble into their path.

Attacks in the region have sharply increased global oil prices in the past and could in the future, as Nigeria exports almost 1 million barrels of crude a day to United States in January alone, more than Saudi Arabia.

A peace deal with the government that halted fighting for several months now appears to be faltering, especially after militants detonated two car bombs March 15 during a Vanguard newspaper-sponsored discussion on the amnesty programme.