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Friday, 17 March, 2000, 12:49 GMT
Nigerians release Shell oil workers
The people of the delta are among Nigeria's poorest
The people of the delta are among Nigeria's poorest
Staff of the multi-national oil and gas company Shell have been released, after being held hostage for five days by youths who seized a natural gas plant in Nigeria's troubled Niger Delta.

A spokesman for Shell said the protesters freed the 32 oil workers after negotiations involving local officials and community leaders.

"The protesters agreed to free the workers on their own volition," he said, adding that no troops were needed.

The youths stormed the Utorogu gas plant near the town of Warri, on Monday morning, demanding that Shell improve a local road.

The gas plant, which feeds power plants in southern Nigeria remains closed.

Shell: under pressure to improve road
Shell: under pressure to improve road
Hostage taking and acts of sabotage are frequent occurrences in the Niger Delta, where local communities feel they have been exploited by oil companies and successive Nigerian governments.

Nigeria's democratic government took office last year with a pledge to end the disorder in the Delta, and improve conditions for its impoverished inhabitants, but it has made little progress in either regard.

The Delta region provides Nigeria with the oil and gas reserves that help keep the economy going.

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See also:

06 Nov 98 | Africa
Fighting the oil firms
03 Jun 99 | Africa
Nigeria reinforces oil town
24 Nov 99 | Africa
Niger Delta remains sealed off
22 Apr 99 | Crossing continents
Feature: The Akassa approach
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