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Kidnap Briton freed in Nigeria

A BRITISH oil worker held hostage in southern Nigeria for seven days has been released unharmed by his kidnappers, his employer announced yesterday.

Jim Simpson, abducted in the Delta region of Nigeria on February 9, was recovering in the southern town of Warri after his ordeal, according to Oiltools International. He was snatched in Warri with two co-workers, an Italian and a Nigerian, who have also been freed.

Joe Rovig, senior vice president for Oiltools (Europe and Africa), said Mr Simpson was being reunited in Warri with his wife and young son.

He said: "Our managers in the area have spoken to him. He is physically unharmed, but he was held for seven days, which is very trying as you can imagine."

Mr Rovig said the company would see that both men had thorough medical checks to make sure they were fit. He added there was "absolutely no pressure" on Mr Simpson to return to work. He could "relax, unwind and spend time with his family and decide what to do".

"He is now back in control of his own life and the ball is in his court," Mr Rovig added.

He confirmed Mr Simpson was from England and in his late 30s, but declined to give any more details at the request of the family. He would not comment on whether a ransom had been paid to secure the hostages' release.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed Mr Simpson's freedom and said: "The British Vice Consul from Lagos is in Warri at the moment and he is assisting the company." The spokesman did not know if a ransom had been paid, adding: "We were not directly involved in the negotiations."

On Monday, a British teacher, Martin Westbury from Lancashire, and his two-year-old son Benjamin were released unharmed by kid- nappers in the same region.