Nigerian militants say hijack vessel, kidnap 15

Thu May 14, 2009 5:33am EDT


ABUJA, May 14 (Reuters) - Nigeria's most prominent militant group said on Thursday one of its affiliate groups have hijacked a vessel in the Niger Delta and kidnapped 15 of its passengers.

"The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) can confirm that an affiliate group hijacked the MV Spirit yesterday in Delta state and have taken 15 foreign crew members hostage," the militant group said in an emailed statement.

It was not possible to independently verify the claim.

MEND, a loose coalition of militant groups, on Thursday gave oil companies an additional 48 hours to evacuate their staff in the Niger Delta and threatened to attack helicopters and planes after the deadline. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/ ) (Reporting by Randy Fabi; Editing by Louise Ireland)