MILITANTS said yesterday the Nigerian military botched a rescue mission aimed at liberating two British hostages captive in the country’s southern oil region.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an e-mail that the overnight mission caused the militants to separate the British victims and move them deeper into the region’s vast network of creeks and mangrove swamps.
Matthew Maguire, of Merseyside, and Robin Hughes, are believed to have been among 27 oil workers, including five expatriates, kidnapped when their vessel was hijacked on September 9. The other hostages were later released.
The militants said the hostages weren’t in the village where the military launched its attack which, the militants said, left some men, women and children dead.
In a separate incident, gunmen attacked vessels near a crude oil loading installation on Saturday night and one crew member was killed, a private security official said.
The official said the gunmen had initially tried to board an oil tanker but turned their sights on service vessels after failing to board the tanker.
Some crew were reported kidnapped but no details were immediately available.
The militants are behind nearly three years of violence in the southern Niger Delta, where more than 200 foreign workers have been kidnapped. The hostages are normally released after a ransom is paid.
The militants say their impoverished areas have not benefited from five decades of oil production, and they are agitating for more federally held oil funds to be sent to the southern oil states.