More Hostages Taken in the Niger Delta

Jan 10, 2007 2:08pm

Armed militants in Nigeria have kidnapped nine Korean oil workers in the Niger Delta, working for the oil company Daewoo. But the militant group responsible isn’t MEND, says the rebel group’s elusive leader. MEND, for Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, has claimed responsibility, however, for a string of recent attacks that include kidnappings and bombings, as ABC News reported on World News, Nightline and  In a recent exclusive online interview, Jomo, the self-proclaimed leader of the group, confirmed to ABC News’ Brian Ross that MEND is holding four foreign workers but denies any ties to the kidnapping of the Daewoo workers. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Photos What’s Leading to Terror in the Niger Delta? Brian Ross Webcast Terror: The Price of Oil in the Niger Delta Click Here to Check Out the Latest Brian Ross Slideshows The kidnappers are "not us," he writes. "They were taken by one of the many criminal bands in the delta and will soon be exchanged for ransom I’m sure." Texas Richards of Omaha, Texas, was taken hostage by one of these militant groups last June and held for two days before his oil company paid ransom. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. He says armed militants stormed his rig 50 miles offshore in the middle of the night. Richards says it wasn’t MEND who kidnapped him but a group of villagers organized by a tribal king. "The chief of the kidnappers was the chief’s son," says Richards. "He was expressing his dissatisfaction with the oil companies." Sebastian Junger, a contributing editor to "Vanity Fair" who spent time with Jomo’s group MEND, calls the region a "hall of mirrors." He says there are many militant groups kidnapping workers, and even more than one group calling itself MEND. Junger says local anger about the corruption of oil companies and the Nigerian government is fueling the kidnappings. The total amount of oil money that came out of the region and was either stolen or wasted by corrupt officials over the years is estimated at $400 billion. "Here is a country making $1 billion a week in oil revenue, and it’s one of the poorest countries in the world; that’s the problem," says Junger. Of the kidnappers, he says, "These guys on boats with guns, they are a symptom." A Daewoo official has stated publicly that company representatives have spoken to the hostages to confirm they are unharmed and will work with the South Korean and Nigerian governments for their safe return. 

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus