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Nigerians Reportedly Releases American

March 1, 2006

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ An e-mail purportedly from a Nigerian militant group said it had released a diabetic American and two ill Egyptians who were among nine foreign oil workers held hostage.

U.S. advisers were in Nigeria and working to secure the release of the workers _ which included three Americans _ a U.S. Embassy spokesman said Wednesday.

``A nonmilitary U.S. government team of advisers has arrived to work closely with all parties involved to secure the safe and peaceful release of the Wilbros workers detained in the delta,″ said embassy Spokesman Rudolf Stewart, referring to the company that employed the hostages.

An e-mail purportedly from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta militants said they had released the American and two Egyptians.

But another militant official denied the report. Abel Oshey, spokesman for Delta State Governor James Ibori, said officials there were trying to confirm whether any captives had been released.

A military spokesman in the region had no information on any hostage liberation.

The militants took the nine hostages on Feb. 18 amid a series of assaults on the oil industry in Africa’s largest producer of crude that cut production by about 20 percent. Four hostages taken in an earlier seizure had been released unharmed.

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