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Six More Hostages Released in Nigeria

A total of six foreign oil workers kidnapped 10 days ago in Nigeria's southern oil region by a group of unidentified gunmen have been released. Latest release means expatriate oil workers abducted this month, with the exception of a Lebanese worker, have all been freed.

The six men who regained their freedom Wednesday night included two Britons, one American, a German, an Irish and a Pole.

They were kidnapped at gunpoint from a nightclub in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt last week. A Lebanese man who was kidnapped in a separate incident remains in captivity.

The recent string of kidnappings led to a crackdown by the Nigerian military, during which 160 suspected militants were arrested in Port Harcourt.

Nigeria's main oil workers union says it is unimpressed with the government's handling of the violence in the delta and has threatened to pull out its members from the region.

Peter Esele, president of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) says the authorities have failed to address serious concerns about the safety of its members, including the killing of a PENGASSAN member during a recent shoot-out between soldiers and militants.

The militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, says 10 of its fighters were killed in a recent ambush by troops. The group has vowed to avenge the killings stoking fears of a further escalation of violence.

A series of attacks on the oil industry have forced oil companies in Nigeria to cut production by about 500,000, almost a quarter of Nigerian output.