Nigerian Militants: UK Hostage Freed

By: Edward Harris AP
By: Edward Harris AP

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - A British hostage who was captured more
than seven months ago by Nigeria's main militant group was freed on
Sunday, a senior military official said.

The captive, Robin Barry Hughes, was handed over to military officials in Nigeria's southern oil region, said the official, Sarkin Bello. He told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he had no immediate information about Hughes' condition, or whether a ransom had been paid.

Earlier Sunday, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta militants said in an e-mail to the AP that they would free Hughes "very soon," due to the man's poor health. The group later confirmed that Hughes had been liberated.

Hughes was among 27 oil workers kidnapped by militants when their vessel was hijacked in early September. The militant group said Matthew John Maguire, who was taken in the same incident with Hughes, was not going to be released along with his British compatriot. The other hostages have been released.

Hundreds of kidnappings have been reported in the southern Niger Delta in recent years, and the practice appears to be spreading into other parts of Africa's most populous nation and biggest oil producer.

The militant group spearheaded the practice of seizing oil workers, with the stated political aim of forcing the government to increase its region's share of federally controlled petroleum industry funds.

But the practice has been taken up by ransom-seeking criminals in the oil region and, increasingly, beyond. Kidnappings of foreigners have been reported in recent weeks in three states outside the southern Niger Delta oil areas, including a Canadian woman taken Thursday in northern Kaduna state.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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