International

British 3-Year-Old Released by Nigerian Kidnappers

July 09, 2007 04:45 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Militants in the Niger Delta free a British toddler in a kidnapping that pushed up oil prices the world over; the incident drew the international media's attention to the worsening violence in Nigeria.

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Three-year-old Margaret Hill was back with her parents on July 8 after three days’ imprisonment at a hideout in the Niger Delta.

The gunmen holding the little girl had threatened to kill her, but she was returned to her parents unharmed and in good spirits. Her only physical complaint was a rash of mosquito bites.

Margaret was abducted by militiamen who attacked the car taking her to school when it was stuck in traffic on July 5.

Kidnappings are common in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where militants often take hostages to achieve political goals.

However, the targeting of children is a new development. Three local children have been abducted in the past six weeks.

This was the first child of foreign nationality to be kidnapped, and news of Margaret’s abduction had international repercussions. Her plight drew worldwide attention to the growing violence in Nigeria, diminishing confidence in the Nigerian oil industry—the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States.

In the wake of Margaret’s abduction, oil prices surged past $76 a barrel, approaching the record level of $78.30.

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Background

Conflict in the Niger Delta

The Niger River Delta on the western coast of Nigeria sits atop one of the world’s richest oil reserves. Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer. However, a year of armed conflict between the government and militant rebel groups has cut the area’s oil production by a third, contributing to record high gas prices in America.

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