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Nigerian Militants Release Last of 60 Hostages


Officials in southern Nigeria say armed youths have freed all of the 60 people they took hostage in a raid on a Shell oil facility Tuesday.

Spokesmen for Shell have confirmed the release, saying all the former hostages are safe and unhurt.

The youths took control of an oil flow station in Nigeria's Bayelsa state on Tuesday, demanding the company offer more jobs and benefits to the local Oporoma community.

Most of the hostages were freed later Tuesday. The remainder were set free late Wednesday after talks between the youths and regional government officials.

Such incidents have become common in Nigeria's Niger Delta region, where militants are demanding that local communities get a greater share of the region's oil wealth.

The takeover of the flow station forced Shell to shut down production of 12,000 barrels of oil per day. Company officials have not said when that production may resume.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer and normally pumps more than 2.5 million barrels per day. However, militant attacks have cut the country's production by at least 25 percent since February.

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

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