Hungry Kidnappers lower ransom demand for Nigerian journalists

newspaper_readersLAGOS — Gunmen who kidnapped four Nigerian journalists in the oil-rich south, sparking outrage in the region, have drastically reduced their ransom demand Thursday, the reporters’ union said.

“We spoke to our colleagues and their kidnappers today,” the national secretary of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Usman Leman, told AFP.

“The kidnappers agreed to reduce their ransom demand to 30 million naira (200,000 dollars, 155,000 euros).”

Their initial demand was 250 million naira.

“The journalists are unharmed but they are missing their families and their colleagues. We are still pleading with their kidnappers to set them free,” Leman said.

According to Leman, the abductors claimed to have lowered their demand after appeals for their release, with the targeting of the journalists having provoked outrage across Nigeria.

Officials and media rights groups, including global organisation Reporters Without Borders, have called for the immediate release of the journalists seized on Sunday in southeast Abia State.

Abia state police spokesman Ali Okechukwu said the “rescue operation is still ongoing. Our men are everywhere and we hope to get a tangible result very soon.”

He did not give details of the operation.

While kidnappings are relatively common in Nigeria’s south, oil workers have traditionally been the victims. The abduction of the journalists marked a widening of the target profiles in recent months.

Sunday’s kidnappings were the second involving journalists in the volatile region this year.

In March, three M-Net Supersport crew members — a South African and two Nigerians — were seized in Imo state, which neighbours the oil hub of Rivers State. They were freed about a week later.

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