Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hostages released - others remain in captivity

Five embassy staff kidnapped in Ethiopia twelve days ago have arrived at Brize Norton RAF base in London. The three Britons, an Italian and French national were all said to be well. But whilst the embassy staff returned home, they leave behind eight Ethiopians who remain in the hands of their kidnappers. According to reports they were fed raw camel meat, but were otherwise well treated. As the plane touched down on British soil, Sky News and the BBC brought Live pictures of the event. The BBC cut away for a short period as Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, spoke about her increased budget put aside for the 2012 Olympics. CNN broke into their programming to show viewers the embassy staff and their families descending the stairs and walking across the tarmac. France 24 continued with a discussion programme whilst Al Jazeera English reported on another kidnapped European held in Afghanistan. The Italian newspaper editor, Daniel Mastrogiacomo, was taken hostage by Taleban fighters on the 6th March [BBC].

CNN reported earlier today of two Italians released by their Nigerian kidnappers. The two had been held since December 2006. Nigeria has seen dozens of kidnappings of oil workers as rebels fight for profits to be invested in the country. Earlier this week a Montenegrin and two Croations were rescued by the Nigerian Army [BBC]. Kidnappings of foreign oil workers, mostly for ransoms, multiplied in the delta in January and February although most hostages have now been released. The only expatriate still in captivity is a French contractor for oil company Total who was abducted by suspected ransom-seekers on February 7.
The fate of a German national and his mother still hangs in the balance after Iraqi kidnappers released a video saying they would be killed ‘in ten days’ from the release of the message if their demands were not met [BBC]. Alan Johnson, a BBC correspondent, kidnapped in Gaza also remains in the hands of his kidnappers. No word has yet been heard from the people who abducted the journalist on the 12th March [BBC].

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