Freed Hyundai Korean-Nigerian workers narrate ordeal

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Four South Korean workers and a Nigerian who were kidnapped Monday in the oil-rich Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria appeared in public on Saturday after they were released unharmed.

The four workers from South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries and a Nigerian were abducted by armed men on Monday while working at a construction site in the southern state of Bayelsa.

They appeared at a news conference in the state capital Yenagoa alongside state police commissioner Kingsley Omire, who said the five had been freed unharmed on Friday night.

The Nigerian, identified as Austin Giwa, said their abductors had demanded a 200 million naira ($1.3 million) ransom from the company but Omire said that nothing was paid.

Giwa said they had been fed with bread and rice and given water while held captive but that the kidnappers considered them a “bad” deal as they would not attract a ransom.

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A gang of about seven armed men stormed into their office on Monday, shot into the air to scare people away and made off with the hostages in a waiting speed boat to a mangrove forest, Giwa said.

He said they were guarded by armed men throughout their ordeal and that their abductors made a series of telephone contacts with the company before deciding to free them and then dropping them off in a village near Yenagoa where police picked them up.

Gangs looking for ransom money have frequently abducted expatriates working in the oil-producing Niger Delta.

Bayelsa police spokesman Fidelis Odunna told AFP that two suspects were in police custody and being interrogated over the abduction.