Source AP ©

Nigerian military free British oil worker

Nigerian troops freed a kidnapped British national during a dawn raid Friday in a village on the outskirts of the country's oil industry hub of Port Harcourt, a military spokesman said.

Maj. Sagir Musa, spokesman for the joint military task force battling militants and criminals targeting Nigeria's oil industry, said oil worker David Ward was rescued by troops in Abaara Etche village, 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Port Harcourt. Musa gave no further details but said the military will later issue a formal statement on the incident.

Ward, an employee of oil service company Hydrodive, was abducted from his car by gunmen on Aug. 10 on his way to work.

More than 200 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta since militants stepped up their attacks in late 2005. The militants are campaigning for more local control of oil revenues by the region's impoverished inhabitants. Criminal gangs that operate in the area also carry out kidnappings for ransom.

The attacks cut at least a quarter of the daily 2.5 million barrel export of Africa's leading oil producer and added to the upward pressure on global oil prices.

Militant activity has calmed in recent weeks as the new government of President Umaru Yar'Adua released two regional leaders imprisoned on treason or corruption charges, appearing to meet a number of the conditions set by the main militant group.

Troops have also increased raids on suspected militant and criminal hide-outs in the oil region.

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