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Reports: Militants to Release Two German Hostages in Nigeria

A Nigerian militant group said it had freed two German hostages seized by an unidentified armed group in the oil-producing Niger Delta on July 11.

Militants wearing black masks, military fatigues and carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles in the Niger Delta

The two men were kidnapped by a militant group in the Niger Delta

"An elite commando unit from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta concluded a successful rescue of the two German hostages and staff of Julius Berger," the group said on Thursday, Aug. 14, in an emailed statement, according to Reuters news agency.

The militant group said it wanted to intervene because the pair were not part of the energy sector but were working to help build the delta's infrastructure, Reuters reported.

The group has also rescinded a threat against the German construction company that employed the men, saying it was a ruse to trick the criminals and allow for the rescue, the AFP news agency said.

The Nigerian unit of German builder Bilfinger Berger is rebuilding the main east-west road across the Niger Delta and is one of the country's biggest private sector employers, with more than 16,000 employees.

The German Foreign Ministry and officials of construction firm Julius Berger had no immediate comment.

Militants in the impoverished Niger Delta regularly attack oil production facilities and abduct foreign workers as they press for a bigger say in oil exploitation in the area.

Attacks have cut production in Nigeria by almost a quarter since the beginning of the year, contributing to sky-rocketing global oil prices and allowing Angola to overtake Nigeria as Africa's top oil producer.

In spite of its oil wealth, the majority of Nigerians live on less than one dollar a day.

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