Flight to safety for oil rig hostages

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The Independent Online

Five Britons who had been held captive for days on two oil rigs in Nigeria have have been flown to safety, the Foreign Office has said.

Five Britons who had been held captive for days on two oil rigs in Nigeria have have been flown to safety, the Foreign Office has said.

The Britons were among 160 being held, including about 20 expatriates and seven Americans, after 50 armed youths invaded the two Shell flow stations in the south eastern state of Bayelsa on Monday.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the High Commission in Lagos had confirmed the safe release of the Britons.

An agreement had been reached on Wednesday with representatives of the hostage takers to free their captives the following day - but the rigs are so remote that the representatives only made it back yesterday to order the releases.

A Shell spokeswoman said the occupation ended yesterday, but there was short delay while helicopters had to be flown in to get the workers off.

The company refused the youths' demands for jobs as security personnel and catering staff and for a £3,000 ransom.

Protesters regularly sabotage pipeline installations and take hostages from oil companies to call attention to the lack of development and abject living conditions in the Niger Delta, where most of the country's oil is drilled.

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