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Foreign Oil Workers Freed in Nigeria

Three oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria have been released. Italian energy company ENI said the men are in good condition. It is unclear whether a ransom was paid to secure their release.

Gunmen abducted the three oil workers, as they traveled in their car Thursday morning in Port Harcourt, the largest city in the Niger Delta, which is home to the offices of the leading oil companies operating in Nigeria.

Officials at Italian Energy Company ENI said the kidnapped workers included an Italian and an Indian working for the Saipem affiliate in Nigeria and a contract workers for another oil company.

The kidnapping, which took place just one day after the killing of an American oil industry executive in the same city, lasted less than 24 hours. ENI spokesman Gianni Di Giovanni said the men were released early Friday.

Di Giovanni said the oil workers were released around three in the morning, and were not subjected to any violence. He said they were at the ENI base in Nigeria.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, an armed group battling against foreign oil interests in Nigeria denied involvement in the kidnapping. It said the abduction was linked to a dispute between the oil company and the community where it operates.

There have been a number of kidnappings in the impoverished delta, where people say they are suffering neglect from their government.

It remains unclear whether a ransom was paid to secure the release of the abducted oil workers.

Di Giovanni said local authorities and ENI engineers are looking into the case.

Nigerian militants in the delta region have repeatedly attacked oil industry targets, conducted kidnappings and stolen crude oil.