Prospects brighten for hostage release in Nigeria

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-08 07:01

The five Chinese workers kidnapped in Nigeria on Friday are safe and could be released soon, Xinhua reported yesterday, quoting a reliable source.

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The source was reported as saying that an unnamed powerful regional leader would "offer necessary assistance to the Chinese rescue group as well as the state government and the police in rescuing the hostages".

News agencies also quoted Rivers State police boss, Felix Ogbaudu, as saying that leaders and prominent citizens of Emohua community, where the kidnapping took place, have offered to assist in the search and efforts to release the hostages as quickly as possible.

"There has been no information yet about the whereabouts of the hostages, but the chairman of the local government, Emeka Woke, has promised to wade into the matter since it is his area," Ogbaudu was quoted as saying.

Woke also said that there was progress in resolving the problem, adding that all necessary contacts were being made to secure the release of the Chinese hostages.

The Chinese rescue group headed by Wang Lei, political councilor at the Chinese embassy, arrived in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, on Saturday afternoon.

The five hostages, from Southwest China's Sichuan Province, were working in a rural telecom program when they were kidnapped by unidentified armed men last Friday.

The Chinese government has asked its embassy in Nigeria to make all-out efforts to help secure the release of the workers.
Related opinion
The kidnapping sounds an alarm bell that the safety of the ever-increasing number of Chinese working overseas needs to be high on the agenda of our diplomatic missions.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the Foreign Ministry and China's embassy and consulate in the African country to do everything possible to rescue the kidnapped.

Meanwhile, officials in Sichuan visited and comforted family members of all the five kidnapped, said Vice-Governor Huang Xiaoxiang, who heads an emergency response team in the province.

Two of the kidnapped workers 43-year-old Gao Zemin and 36-year-old Li Shaofu were from Jianqiang Village in Guansi Township in Renshou County, said township head Li Shaojun.

He said that both were from poor families and went to work in Nigeria in 2005.

According to the township chief, each of the kidnapped workers earns about $800 a month in Nigeria, a considerable sum by local standards.

China Daily - Agencies

(China Daily 01/08/2007 page1)

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