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The Guardian: Nigerian rebels free Briton but vow to fight on

XAN RICE NAIROBI
Mar 28, 2006
Militants in the Niger delta released three kidnapped foreign oil workers yesterday – including a British security expert, John Hudspith – but gave warning of more attacks on multinational oil companies.
Mr Hudspith and two Americans, Cody Oswald and Russell Spell, were handed over to government officials in Warri, southern Nigeria. They were the last of nine foreign hostages taken on February 18 from a barge laying pipes for Royal Dutch Shell. The others were freed after 12 days.
A spokesman for Delta state said the men were in “good health”. In a statement, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said it freed them following requests from local communities, who were no longer being attacked by the military for siphoning oil from pipelines.
However, Mend said its demands for the release of two Ijaw tribal leaders and payment by Shell of $1.5bn (pounds 858m) for environmental damage had not been met. It vowed to continue operations.
The militants accuse the big oil firms of colluding with corrupt government officials, and are fighting for greater control of the nation's oil wealth. Delta residents are among the poorest in Nigeria.
Mend's attacks have forced Shell to close two of its oilfields and a loading terminal. Nigeria, Africa's largest oil exporter, has seen its normal daily production of 2.5m barrels cut by more than a fifth.

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