BEIJING, February 4 -- Nine Chinese oil workers who were kidnapped last week
by an armed group in Nigeria, were released safely on Sunday morning, according
to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The nine were set free at 6:35 a.m. (Beijing time) following 11 days of tough
diplomatic efforts, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement.
The released workers will return to China soon, she added.
The nine are in stable physical condition and currently resting at their base
in Port Harcourt, the capital of Nigeria's southern Rivers State, said Zhao
Enhui, the managing director of the Chinese company.
A Chinese oil company compound was attacked by an unidentified armed group in
southern Nigeria on January 25. Nine workers were kidnapped and the others moved
to a safe place.
The Chinese government showed deep concern about the workers and demanded
relevant departments investigate the case and go all out to rescue the kidnapped
workers, said Jiang.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, together with the Ministry of Commerce and
Chinese diplomatic missions in Nigeria and elsewhere, had worked with the
Chinese company to carry out the rescue work, according to Jiang.
The Chinese government also asked for evaluation of security conditions and
precaution measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals, she said.
"We extend our sincere greetings to the nine workers, and express our
appreciation of the assistance from the Nigerian government and other sides for
the rescue work," she said.
The attack happened four days after five Chinese telecom workers who had been
kidnapped in Nigeria returned to China. They were captured by unidentified armed
men on January 5 in the southern Nigerian state of Rivers and released 13 days
later on January 17.
A spate of attacks and kidnappings on foreign companies and workers have
occurred in Nigeria, the largest oil producer in Africa and the sixth largest
oil exporter in the world with a daily output of 2.5 million barrels.
"We condemn the recent attacks and kidnappings and demand an end of such
actions," Jiang said.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson also called for the overseas Chinese companies
and nationals to further enhance their awareness of safety and strengthen
security measures to ensure their safety.
Also on Sunday, an armed group of Nigeria which had kidnapped 24 Filipino
seamen, called "the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta", warned that
they would continue to hold the hostages until all their demands are met by the