Nigerian kidnappers release six oil hostages

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ABUJA, Oct 30 (Reuters) Nigerian kidnappers have released six hostages seized on October 26 from an Italian offshore oil production facility, private security contractors working for oil companies said today.

Rebel group the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Mystras vessel, located 85 km offshore and operated by Eni unit Saipem and SBM Offshore .

The hostages included Indians and Poles, according to Eni.

''The Saipem hostages have been released. All are in good health,'' said one of the private security contractors.

The Mystras raid cut output by 50,000 barrels per day and helped lift oil prices to per barrel on Friday.

Attacks by MEND since early last year had already cut Nigerian output by a fifth, contributing to rising oil prices and forcing thousands of foreigners to leave the Niger Delta.

MEND had stopped its attacks since President Umaru Yar'Adua took office in May promising to address grievances of poverty and neglect in the delta, but threatened to resume its raids after the arrest last month of one of its leaders in Angola.

REUTERS PD SSC1403

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