<\body> Stories in America: Nigerians Kidnap Foreign Oil Workers, Demand Basic Services

Friday, February 24, 2006

Nigerians Kidnap Foreign Oil Workers, Demand Basic Services

Nigerian separatist militants showed one of nine foreign hostages, Macon Hawkins to reporters. The 68-year-old Texan and eight of his colleagues working for the US engineering firm Willbros have been held hostage for a week by the militants, who are demanding that the military pull out of the Niger Delta region and that control of oil revenues be handed to their tribe. (AFP/HO)

The militants, who claim to be fighting for a greater local share of the country's oil wealth for their impoverished region, seized Hawkins and eight other foreign oil workers from a barge in the Niger Delta's mangrove swamps Feb. 18.

The 15-minute encounter Friday took place in the middle of the river with the militants in five boats and journalists in two.

Hawkins seemed upbeat despite being surrounded by gunmen standing over him with Kalashnikov automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and tripod-mounted machine guns.

He repeated militant demands that neutral third parties like the United Nations or President Bush get involved in negotiating the release of the hostages, who also include two other Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino.

"Tell President Bush we want to get this thing settled," he added, before the militants steered their boat around and headed back into the mangrove swamps, firing their AK-47s skyward for show.

"These people have no schools, no hospitals," said Hawkins. "They're very poor, it's time to do something."


At 2/24/2006 7:45 PM, Blogger babblingfreak said...

While I don't condone hostage taking and that ilk, I think this is a plea that should be heard.

Too many times we wage private wars on the poor by "protecting" them with a military prescene and contracting oil companies to capitalize on their energy resources. In turn, we offer no compensation to the peoples of the regions. We offer no debt forgiveness to aid them out of their situations.

How would we feel if another countries military occupied a state and set up companies to take away our oil reserves and profit? How can land be bought, sold, and confiscated?

At 2/25/2006 10:41 PM, Anonymous truthseeker said...

Agreed. The people are rising up. Unfortunately, they're being forced to do it with guns. They learned from corrupt governments. Now I'm done.


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