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AFRICA >Two Turks kidnapped in Nigeria freed: Police

PORT HARCOURT - Agence France-Presse

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A general view of an area severely damaged by oil pollution close to an illegal oil refinery on April 19, 2017 in the Niger Delta region near the city of Warri.

A general view of an area severely damaged by oil pollution close to an illegal oil refinery on April 19, 2017 in the Niger Delta region near the city of Warri.

Two Turkish construction workers abducted by gunmen earlier this month in oil-rich southern Nigeria have been freed, police said April 21. 

The workers for BKS Construction Company were released on April 19 and "have been reunited with their colleagues after medical assessment," police commissioner Donald Awunah told reporters.

The pair were seized on April 9 at a hotel in Eket, an industrial city serving as a base to the Nigerian subsidiary of U.S. oil giant Exxon.

Nigerian authorities scoured the vast Niger Delta and negotiated with kidnappers before recovering the men on a lagoon near the town of Calabar, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of where they were taken, Awunah said.  

Five arrests have been made and police are continuing their investigation, the police chief added.

One of Africa's biggest oil-producing areas, the region was plagued by kidnappings for ransom until a government amnesty in 2009. But the number of attacks surged back up last year, cutting oil production by as much as a million barrels a day, and pushing the West African country's economy into recession.

Groups of armed rebels want a larger share of the industry's revenues, political autonomy and the cleaning up of oil-producing sites. Unrest has tapered off in recent months after a government truce with rebels.

April/22/2017

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