Shell strikes a deal with Nigerian hostage-takers

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The Independent Online

The oil company Shell reached an agreement last night with militants in south-east Nigeria who had taken hostage 160 of its workers, five of them British, to demand work for local youths

The oil company Shell reached an agreement last night with militants in south-east Nigeria who had taken hostage 160 of its workers, five of them British, to demand work for local youths

The workers had been held since Monday afternoon, when an armed gang of 60 youths stormed two oil rigs 62 miles north-west of Port Harcourt, in the Niger delta.

A Shell spokesman said the accord was struck in day-long talks with representatives of the gang and that the gunmen who stormed the rigs had agreed to leave. He said: "We rose from a meeting with representatives of the youths with the following agreement: That the youths will vacate the rigs tomorrow [and that] a meeting to discuss their charter of demands ... will be held on 15 August."

Shell confirmed the hostages were unharmed. Families of the British oil workers were contacted by the Foreign Office.

Earlier, Shell said the youths were members of the region's ethnic Ijaw community. The spokesman said the youths were demanding employment with Shell's security and catering contractors, plus payment of 1,000 naira (£10) a day for their time on the rigs until the crisis was resolved. He said their action was not against Shell in particular.

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