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5 Jun, 2007 14:32

No ransom demand for Russian hostages in Nigeria

No ransom demand for Russian hostages in Nigeria

The six men, who were taken from a plant in the south-east of the country, are reportedly unharmed, but as yet, there has been no ransom demand. The men work for Russian aluminium giant RUSAL.

Nigeria is promising to co-operate with Russia to find and release 6 Russian hostages, according to the Nigerian Ambassador in Moscow, Dan Suleiman, who visited the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday to discuss the situation.

“We agreed to co-operate actively, we will do our best to get the hostages released. The Nigerian President himself is now monitoring the case,” Dan Suleiman assured.

Russia's Ambassador in Nigeria says contact has been made with the Russian citizens who were kidnapped yesterday. Russia's Foreign Ministry demanded immediate action be taken by Nigerian authorities to free the workers taken hostage.

“We have been in contact with the government of Nigeria from the very first moment, as well as we are in touch with governments of neighbouring countries that could be of help, particularly with the government of the Republic of Guinea,” Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated. He also said that they are working closely with the representative of the RUSAL company: “Their people are getting visas these very days and hopefully tomorrow they would depart to Nigeria to participate in the work to settle the issue as soon as possible.”

In a dawn attack on the residential compound of the world's top aluminium producer, gunmen entered the grounds of the smelting plant belonging to Russian Aluminium, first blowing up their victims' apartment with dynamite before taking them away. The attackers went on to kill the Nigerian driver of the captured workers.

“The village where Russian citizens, who are employed by the Russian Aluminium company to work at the Nigerian factory ALSCON live, was attacked . As the result of an attack, a Nigerian driver was shot dead and six people were abducted.  Five of them – the company's employees and one is a family member of an employee. At present moment the company is doing everything possible in co-ordination with Russian and Nigerian authorities to secure the earliest release of the kidnapped workers,” Aleksandr Bulygin, RUSAL General Director, commented. 

The identity of the Russians has not yet been released. Rusal is cautious about disclosing any details of the negotiations. The price of the question in this case could be hostages' lives.

Rusal recently closed a deal for the Nigerian Aluminum Smelter Company.  Several dozen Russian employees work at its base.

Rusal is one of the many foreign companies operating in the region, where the kidnapping of expatriates has become an almost daily occurrence. Militant groups want to take greater control over the natural resources of the energy-rich country.

The newly sworn in Nigerian Government called the situation urgent and want a permanent cease-fire.

Analysts say they are skeptical the government will be able to end the violence and the latest kidnapping will further compound their doubts.