Oil Workers Held Hostage in Nigeria

Militant youths have seized a boat in the Nigerian Delta belonging to Royal Dutch Shell and are holding 10 crew members hostage. They are demanding a bigger share of the nation's oil wealth.

The hostages have been held on a boat close to an oil rig since Monday. Hostages included an American, a Filipino, four Ghanians and four Nigerians, said Harriman Oyofo, Shell's spokesman in the southern oil city of Warri.

Shell later said about 40 militants were involved in the invasion. "The persons in eight boats approached the field from different directions and initially forcefully boarded two operating boats and a tug boat," the statement said. They later converged on the crew boat, which services a rig in Shell's EA drilling project some 20 nautical miles off Warri. The youths took the boat and the 10 crew to the nearby Dodo river where the vessel and the captives were last seen. Efforts to try and get the hostages released have not been successful. The rig was not invaded.

Oyofo said the youths, describing themselves as members of the EA Host Community Forum, first invaded Shell's operations in the area two weeks ago but were driven off by the Navy. "They came back this time and seized the boat and the crew, demanding compensation for their own boats they claim were destroyed by the Navy," Oyofo said. They were also demanding the release of one of their leaders being held by the Navy in Warri.


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