Two Italian oil workers kidnapped in southern Nigeria three months ago have been released. Francesco Arena and Cosma Russo were seized in a raid on an oil terminal in December. Their kidnappers, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta or MEND, said they wanted to raise awareness of the region’s problems – its poverty and lack of services.
The employees of oil company Agip were released outside Port Harcourt. Though apparently in good health, they said they were suffering stress. MEND’s attacks on oil facilities in February forced the shutdown of a fifth of the country’s output.
The militants want the release of two jailed leaders, control of the delta’s oil resources and compensation for pollution. They say they will step up attacks if their demands are not met.