RealNews

Nigeria Pits Navy against Oil Rig Hostage Takers

Nigerian navy ships were steaming towards four offshore oil rigs last night to confront striking workers who have held dozens of British and US colleagues hostage in a two-week stand-off. A navy spokesman said the warships would use force if necessary to take control of the rigs and rescue the expatriates, prompting concern that the strikers would destroy the installations. Talks between the strikers’ union and the American drilling company which operates the rigs were deadlocked in Port Harcourt last night. Relatives of the hostages feared the navy’s deployment would scupper chances of a peaceful outcome. At least 35 Britons and 19 Americans are among the 97 foreigners stranded on what are effectively floating prisons, 25 miles offshore in the Gulf of Guinea. What started as an industrial dispute escalated into a siege when Nigerian workers armed themselves with axes and threatened to blow up the rigs. A spokesman for the navy said: “We are trying to make sure things are settled peacefully. Our men will move to take control of the rigs.” Asked what the navy would do if the strikers resisted attempts to board the platforms, he replied: “What action would you expect military men to take?” He added that the operation would take place “immediately”. Full Story

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