Nine foreign oil workers who were kidnapped on Saturday in the Niger Delta will not be treated as well as four others who were released unharmed last month, the hostage takers said

An e-mail from the ethnic Ijaw militia which kidnapped the men,
said: “We are learning with time and experience.

“I cannot say for how long we will keep these hostages or any
motivating factor for their release except for the meeting of our
conditions. These hostages will not be treated as well as the
previous ones,” it said.

The group, which dubs itself the Movement for the Emancipation
of the Niger Delta, has demanded that the oil giant Shell pay 1.5
billion dollars (1.2 billion euros) in compensation to polluted
Ijaw fishing communities.

It has also demanded that the government release from jail two
prominent Ijaws: separatist warlord Mujahid Dokubo Asari and the
ousted former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha,
who is on trial for corruption.

The MEND said that these demands had not changed, but the
immediate trigger for Saturday’s hostage taking and attacks on oil
facilities was two air strikes carried out this week by the
Nigerian military in the delta.

The group said the oil workers could not expect an easy ride,
because of the “anger amongst our units resulting from the killing
of civilians in the attacks on Ijaw communities and the perception
that Shell is facilitating the attacks.”
MEND has criticised Shell for allowing its Osubi airstrip
outside the oil city of Warri to be used by a helicopter gunship
which was used in the raids.

The kidnappers identified the captives as three Americans, a
Briton, two Egyptians, a Filipino and two Thais and warned that
they planned to step up their war on the oil industry in
retaliation for government airstrikes.

The group named the hostages in their message. The names were
confirmed by a naval spokesman and the British Foreign Office
confirmed that one of its nationals, John Hudspith, was among those

The hostages work for a Shell subcontractor, the US engineering
firm Willbros. They were seized from a pipelaying barge on Saturday
after a gunfight between miltants and naval troopers, officials

Last month MEND held four oil workers — an American, a Briton,
a Bulgarian and a Honduran — in the delta creeks for 19 days
before releasing them tired, but unharmed.

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