Foreign hostages released in Nigeria

By Xinhua

Lagos : The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Saturday announced the release of six foreign hostages kidnapped last month and promised to suspend attacks on oil installations for one month.

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In an email to the media, the MEND, a major militant group in the oil-rich southeastern Nigeria, confirmed the release at 11.30 a.m. (1030 GMT) of all six foreign hostages taken by the group in the attack on a Chevron-run facility on the Penington river, May 1.

The six released are John Stapleton, Ignazio Gugliotta, Alfonso Franza, Raffaele Pascariello, Mario Celentano and Jurica Ruic.

All hostages were handed to the Bayelsa governor Timipre Sylva who came to the camp where these individuals were been held, the MEND said, adding that they will be handed over to their employers, Chevron Nigeria.

The MEND said this release in no way signifies the group's intention to halt abductions, but a preparedness to dialogue with a willing government.

The group also promised to suspend attacks on oil installations for one month, saying that it hoped the government would take advantage of the period to ruminate on positive and realistic measures towards a just peace in the delta.