Lebanese set free in Nigeria

A Lebanese construction worker kidnapped in Nigeria's Niger Delta region more than two weeks ago has been released.

    Rebels have kidnapped 40 oil workers over the last year

    "I confirm the release today [Friday] of Daniel Khouri, a construction worker in our company. He was released in Asaba, capital of Delta state. He has now been taken to our office in Port Harcourt," said a senior official in his company.

    "Agents of the State Security Service (SSS) facilitated his release. He is safe and sound and not a single dime was paid before he was released," said the official, who asked not to be named.
      
    Khouri, a Lebanese construction worker for Homan Engineering Company, an oil service firm based in Port Harcourt, was seized by armed men near the oil city of Port Harcourt on his way to work on August 16.

    An unidentified caller had demanded $390,000 in ransom money for his release, a day after he was kidnapped but the company snubbed the demand.

    Oil companies operating in the oil-rich but violence-wracked Delta region are believed to pay ransom regularly to kidnappers in exchange for  their employees' release but none has ever publicly admitted doing so.

    Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian president, last month gave warning to companies and individuals who paid out ransoms to kidnappers that they would be treated as accomplices of the criminals.

    The SSS has previously said that it had arrested the leader of the gang responsible for the abduction, the Associated French Press said.
     
    At least 40 foreign workers have been kidnapped and later released unharmed this year as militants intensify their campaign for a larger share of Nigeria's oil revenues.

    SOURCE: AFP


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