Foreign oil workers still captive

LAGOS - The main militant group in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta said yesterday it had released about 19 Nigerian oil workers kidnapped last month but was still holding two Britons and a Ukrainian.

"The Nigerian hostages rescued from pirates by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) have been released in Rivers state," Mend said in an e-mailed statement.

"Due to the location where the expatriates were kept for their safety, they cannot be released at this time because of security concerns," the group said.

Two Britons, two South Africans and a Ukrainian were kidnapped from an oil supply vessel, the HD Blue Ocean, which was hijacked at the entrance of the Sambreiro River in the delta, a vast network of mangrove swamps, on September 9.

Mend said several days later that it had rescued the five expatriates along with 22 Nigerians, but that they had become trapped when fighting broke out between Mend and the army. - Reuters