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Cablegate: Confirmed: Mend Holds 4 Expat Hostages; No

VZCZCXRO1842
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #1416 3451608
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111608Z DEC 06
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8266
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY 8107
INFO RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH AFB UK
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS LAGOS 001416

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DOE FOR GPERSON, CGAY
TREASURY FOR ASEVERENS, SRENENDER, DFIELDS
COMMERCE FOR KBURRESS
STATE PASS USTR FOR ASST USTR SLISER
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION FOR MARAD
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN AND MSTUCKART
STATE PASS TDA FOR NCABOT
STATE PASS EXIM FOR JRICHTER
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EPET ENERG ASEC PTER NI
SUBJECT: CONFIRMED: MEND HOLDS 4 EXPAT HOSTAGES; NO
AMERICANS INVOLVED

REF: LAGOS 1408

1. (SBU) According to an Agip contact, three Italian and one
Lebanese Agip employees remain hostage. According to this
interlocutor, no Americans were involved in the December 7
attack near Brass in Bayelsa. Agip stated that a group
purporting to be MEND has claimed responsibility for the
kidnapping and said the company is negotiating the hostages'
release. (Comment: Over the course of the year, several
distinct groups have appropriated for themselves the use of
the acronym MEND. For now, we have no reason to believe this
is the same "MEND" that engineered the January/Fbruary
kidnappings and oil facility attacks this year. End Comment.)

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2. (U) MEND released a press statement December 8 claiming
anyone associated with oil companies in the Niger Delta is
subject to roadside and office bombings. Further, this
release said both expatriate and Nigerian workers would be
targeted. The statement also demanded the Nigerian
government to transfer all ownership interests in the oil
industry to communities in the Niger Delta and pay, along
with oil companies, Niger Delta inhabitants for "50 years of
robbery and enslavement." MEND also maintained its
traditional requests that impeached governor Alamieseigha of
Bayelsa State and jailed militant leader Dokubo Asari be
released and that Shell and others provide
payment/compensation for their activities in the Niger Delta.
The MEND press statement gives a list of "political"
demands. However, we do not know whether the authors of the
statement are also the architects of this most recent
hostage-taking. Previously, after such statements have been
published, the actual hostage takers have bargained for
ransom payments and have not assiduously pursued these
political goals.
BROWNE

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