(Adds quote, context, in paragraphs 3-6)
YENAGOA, Nigeria May 10 Kidnappers in Nigeria's
Niger Delta region released three Dutch nationals held since May
4, Anka Mustapha, a spokesman for Bayelsa state's Joint Task
Force, which includes the military and police, told Reuters on
The kidnapping of expatriates by armed gangs seeking ransom
money has been rife in the oil-producing Delta region, although
it has tailed off since a 2009 amnesty was signed with militant
groups there. Foreign companies have also improved their
"Yes they have been rescued (released) and handed over to
their country's ambassador," Mustapha said. He declined to give
Nigeria has Africa's largest population and it has become
the biggest economy on the continent, overtaking South Africa.
It ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for
kidnapping, a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise.
Abductions occur most frequently in the southern oil states, but
sometimes in Lagos and the southwest as well.
Last month, Islamist rebels in the northeast kidnapped more
than 200 schoolgirls in an attack that has stirred global
(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg;
Editing by Mohammad Zargham)