Niger Delta gunmen free two hostages, keep Dutch trio

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(AFP) – Niger Delta gunmen have released two Nigerians they kidnapped two days ago, but kept three Dutch nationals who were abducted at the same time, one of those freed tweeted on Tuesday.

Environmental activist Sunny Ofehe tweeted that he and another kidnap victim were “released in the creek of Niger Delta last night by gun men! The other 3 colleagues are yet to be freed.”

In an interview with Dutch television, Amsterdam-based Nigerian activist Ofehe said the group was seized after armed men in a dinghy approached their boat, shooting out its motor.

The gunmen yelled “Keep your faces down, if you make a single sound, we will shoot you,” Ofehe said.

The militants were looking specifically for the Dutch nationals, yelling “where are the whites?” before taking the trio away on the dinghy.

Dutch and Nigerian authorities said Monday that three Dutch nationals, two men and a woman, had been kidnapped in Nigeria’s oil producing region while on their way to inspect a hospital built by US oil giant Chevron.

Nigerian media reports said that two Nigerians were kidnapped at the same time.

Scores of foreigners have been abducted in the southern Niger Delta region, home to Africa’s largest oil industry, with many released on payment of a ransom.

The gunmen told Ofehe that “they were doing it for the money, that they didn’t have jobs, that the oil companies active in the region were not hiring locals and as a consequence, they were forced to do this.”

Employees of foreign oil companies are required to have an armed escort when travelling in the Delta, but international journalists, aid workers and others typically avoid taking a security detail.

Dutch printing company Gerrits&Leffers said on Monday that two of its employees were among those abducted and that the pair were in Nigeria to help Niger Delta peace activists publish a magazine.

 

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