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Nigerian Militants Release Kidnapped Oil Worker


Nigerian militants who kidnapped nine foreign oil workers last month have released one of them in the presence of reporters.

The reporters say the militants freed Macon Hawkins, an American who turned 69 years old Wednesday. The release occurred as reporters visited a militant stronghold in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Armed militants abducted the workers two weeks ago in an attack on a Shell oil facility in the delta region.

Earlier Wednesday, an e-mail purportedly from the militants said two ill Egyptians from the group were also freed. But a later message denied that release had taken place.

The militants, from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, have been demanding greater local control over the region's oil wealth and the release of two jailed ethnic Ijaw leaders.

Four other oil workers kidnapped by militants in January were released after 19 days.

Militants have carried out a string of attacks in the Niger Delta that have forced Shell to slash its Nigerian oil production by 455,000 barrels a day.

Meanwhile, Chevron oil says it has cut its production in Nigeria by 13,000 barrels a day due to a damaged pipeline. Local media reports say militants attacked a Chevron facility. Chevron says the cause of the damage is under investigation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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