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Three kidnapped Frenchmen released in Nigeria

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-12

Three Frenchmen kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria on September 22 have been released, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday. The men were employees of France's offshore services firm Bourbon.

REUTERS - France said on Wednesday three of its nationals kidnapped in Nigeria in September had been released.

The three men were working for French marine services company Bourbon when they were abducted off the Nigerian coast on the night of Sept. 21.

"I can announce, according to information provided by Nigerian authorities, the release of the hostages taken on Sept. 22," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statement.

Bourbon said in a statement the three men were in good health and would return to France in the next few days. It did not give other details.

Nigeria's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said on Tuesday it was holding the three after also claiming responsibility for an attack on an Afren oil rig earlier this week.

The gunmen attacked the Afren oil rig in the shallow-water Okoro oilfield off the Niger Delta and seized seven crew members including two more Frenchmen.

Kidnappings are frequent in the Niger Delta area of eastern Nigeria, the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry which is often targeted by criminal gangs and insurgents calling for greater regional autonomy.

France now has 10 of its nationals being held overseas including the two taken this week in Nigeria, five in Mali, two in Afghanistan and one in Somalia.

"We are completely mobilised to obtain the release of our compatriots still being held hostage," Kouchner said.

Date created : 2010-11-10

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