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Kidnapping of British Girl in Nigeria Provokes Outrage


Officials in the tense delta region of Nigeria are searching for the three-year-old daughter of a British oil worker who was abducted on Thursday. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa in Abuja reports that the kidnapping of Margaret Hill has been widely condemned in Nigeria.

The Nigerian authorities and British diplomats are frantically working to help secure Margaret's release.

The kidnapping of a toddler has provoked outrage in Nigeria. Even the country's high-profile separatist group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, condemning the act as 'an abomination.'

Niger Delta analyst Charles Dokubo says it represents a total negation of the politically orchestrated armed struggle for a greater share of the region's oil wealth.

"I think this is unacceptable, to have a child being kidnapped and the parents, I am a parent myself," he said. "I doubt if this will solve the problems the people of the Niger Delta are facing. Most people in the Niger Delta will frown not only at the kidnapping of this, but on kidnappings as a whole. Because the issue is, much as you want to bring attention to the issues of the Niger Delta, it also defaces the intentions and aspirations of those in the Niger Delta."

Gunmen intercepted a car carrying the girl to school and kidnapped her, marking the first abduction of a foreign child in Nigeria's unruly oil region.

More than a dozen foreigners are being held, including five kidnapped Wednesday from an offshore oil rig.

Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, one of Niger Delta's most prominent militants freed recently by the government as a conciliatory gesture, says delta crisis can only find a political solution.

"I don't want anarchy in the region. As it is now, there is anarchy," he said. "What we want is; Yoruba man sit here, Itsekiri man sit here, Nupe man sit here; look this thing is not working, we can't stay together because we are different people and Nigeria itself was not created with our consent and mandate. Let us sit down at a discussion and arrive at a decision, and put that decision to a plebiscite."

The girl's mother, who is Nigerian, says she had been contacted by the kidnappers who are demanding money to secure her release.

Kidnappings for ransom are frequent in the region, but children were until now not targeted.

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