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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Kidnapped oilmen freed in Nigeria
Policeman walks past oil company headquarters
The workers are reportedly in good condition
Three foreign oil workers kidnapped in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt have been freed.

The trio, who work for an Italian oil firm, were seized on Thursday in a car, and taken away on a boat, police said.

But spokesmen for the oil firm and the Italian foreign ministry said on Friday morning that they had been released.

Nigeria's oil fields have become more restive recently, as militant groups demanding more of the proceeds from oil have launched attacks and kidnappings.

One of the kidnapped workers was an Italian, but the nationality of the other two was not clear.

They worked for Saipem, a subsidiary of the Italian Eni group, which operates in Nigeria under the name of Agip.

An Eni spokesman said the three were released overnight and were in good condition.

"They are well, they were not subjected to any violence," Gianni Di Giovanni said.

Production cut

The kidnapping came the day after attackers on a motorbike shot dead a US expatriate oil worker as he was driving his car.

Nigerian militants in the Niger Delta

An upsurge in attacks on foreign oil interests has cut the country's oil production by 20%.

Last month, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) renewed its threat to continue oil installation attacks.

It said the offer of thousands more jobs and a new motorway from President Olusegun Obasanjo did not address its demands for more local control of oil wealth and demilitarisation.

The Mend group has claimed responsibility for two car bomb attacks in recent weeks, one of which was a warning against Chinese expansion in the region, it said.


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