Two Germans kidnapped in Niger Delta released unharmed

Two Germans kidnapped in Nigeria nearly a week ago have been freed, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced on Saturday.

Two Germans kidnapped in Niger Delta released unharmed
File picture of rebels from the MEND group in the Niger Delta. Photo: DPA

The men, aged 45 and 55, were abducted in Abia state in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta on Sunday, after going swimming in the Imo River.

They have been freed and are safe and sound, the minister said in a statement.

“They are well considering the circumstances,” he said.

A Nigerian security source said earlier this week that one of the men worked in Port Harcourt, the oil city capital of neighbouring Rivers State, while the other came from Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.

According to police, the two foreigners had come to the river to swim in company of three young Nigerian women and a driver. The kidnappers seized the Germans after they got out of the water, while the women and the driver escaped.

Nigerian officials could not immediately confirm they had been released but Westerwelle said the men were in a secure location in Port Harcourt.

He thanked German and Nigerian authorities for their “tireless intervention” which he said had resulted in a swift end to the ordeal of the abducted men.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and there has been no mention of whether the abductors received a ransom.

Hundreds of foreigners and locals, mostly oil workers, have been kidnapped since 2006 in Nigeria, most of them in the Niger Delta, where international oil companies operate, but where local people see little if any of the benefit.

A group calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has declared war on the oil industry in the region, and is thought to be behind some of the kidnappings.

Many of the people seized have been released unharmed, but in some cases only after payment of a ransom.

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.