The MEND to liberate his hostages/ Le MEND compte libérer ses otages.

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Suite au discours d’apaisement du nouveau président du Nigéria, Umaru Yar’Adua, le MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) va libérer les 11 otages étrangers qu’il détient.

Following the appeasement speech from the new Nigeria President, Umaru Yar’Adua, the MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) will liberate the 11 hostages it kept captive.

Boston Globe:

June 11, 2007

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigerian militants said they planned to release 11 foreign hostages in the oil producing Niger Delta on Monday and state authorities said they were on their way to collect them.

The expected releases in Rivers and Bayelsa states are the latest sign of an easing of tension in Africa’s top oil producer in the wake of promises by newly-inaugurated President Umaru Yar’Adua to address grievances in the impoverished region.

“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta is releasing all foreign nationals that were in our custody,” a faction of the militant group said in an e-mail to the media, listing the names of 11 foreign hostages.

It said it was releasing four Britons, three Americans, two Indians, a Filipino and a South African taken in at least three separate incidents over the past two months.

There are currently about 30 hostages being held by various armed groups in the vast wetlands region, home to Africa’s largest oil industry. Most are being held by groups seeking ransom, but the line between crime and militancy is blurred.

Government officials in Rivers and Bayelsa states said they were expecting a release imminently. “The governor left the villa in a large 12-seater helicopter and the intention was to get some hostages,” said Bayelsa state spokesman Ebimo Amungo.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta emerged in 2005 as a coalition of armed groups from the region, and its attacks have forced Nigeria to shut about a quarter of its oil production. It broke into at least two groups last year.

The factions say they are fighting against neglect in a region which produces 90 percent of Nigeria’s hard currency earnings.

The group said it was releasing the hostages on humanitarian grounds, but also demanded the release of two jailed leaders from the delta, compensation to delta villages for oil spills and the demilitarization of the region.

“This will open way for a genuine dialogue,” it said.

Another faction of the same group released six hostages days after Yar’Adua’s inauguration on May 29 and promised to halt attacks on oil facilities for a month to allow for talks.

Yar’Adua used his inauguration speech to promise to pay urgent attention to the delta and call for an end to violence. In the weeks since then, he has been reaching out to militant leaders to prepare the ground for talks