Nigerian militants promise to free British hostages

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta released this image of two men it claims are British hostages.
A Nigerian militant group promised Sunday to release a sick British hostage held since September 2008.

“Based on the milk of human kindness and compassion, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will release Mr. Robin Barry Hughes on health and age considerations very soon,” the group said in a written statement. “This release is not a quid pro quo but a gesture that puts us on a higher pedestal than the Nigerian government, whose appalling human rights records continues to draw the attention of Amnesty International and other concerned bodies.” The statement added that Hughes would be returned to his employer Hydrodive “after putting measures in place to ensure his safety to the drop-off zone for onward journey to reunite with his family.” It said no ransom had been paid.

Hughes and Matthew John Maguire were among a group of oil workers abducted when gunmen took control of their vessel. The statement said nothing about Maguire.

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MEND is demanding that more of the country’s oil wealth be pumped into the region instead of enriching foreign investors and that political prisoners be released.