Nigerian militants kidnap 24 Filipinos and threaten renewed attacks

NIGER DELTA,Nigeria - Masked Nigerian militants armed with machine guns displayed 24 Filipino hostages in the remote creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta and threatened new attacks.

NIGER DELTA,Nigeria - Masked Nigerian militants armed with machine guns displayed 24 Filipino hostages in the remote creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta and threatened new attacks.

The Filipino seamen were kidnapped on January 20 from a German-operated cargo ship on a river in the western delta by gunmen demanding the release of Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, a militia leader jailed since 2005. He is on trial for treason.

The hostages, wearing blue, white and orange work overalls, appeared tired but in good health.

"The boys have been taking good care of us, but we need clean water," said Ruben Roble, who said he was the captain of the cargo ship that was attacked.

The abduction of the Filipinos was just one of a series of attacks in the delta that have worsened since the start of this year. A total of 38 foreigners are being held captive in the delta by different armed groups.

Poverty, a complete collapse of public services and a breakdown in law and order have contributed to the spiralling violence.

Many residents of the delta resent the oil industry, which has yielded huge revenues for corrupt Nigerian government officials and foreign companies.

"If the government does not listen to us, in 72 hours things will start happening," said Tamuno Goodwill, a masked militant who described himself as a field commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

Royal Dutch Shell, the oil producer in the area , is losing 500000 barrels a day in output.

"We are going to drag the president into a civil war," said Goodwill. - Reuters

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