Nigeria working to free German hostages: official

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Nigeria is working hard to free two German nationals abducted in the southeastern state of Abia, an official said Monday, adding that the two men had taken unnecessary risks.

"We are working very hard to secure the release of the Germans," the top state security official told AFP.

He said the two Germans, aged 45 and 55, kidnapped on Sunday near Imo river, had "exposed themselves to uneccessary risks" by travelling there unaccompanied.

The German government said diplomats were working to secure their release.

"We must assume at this point that two German citizens were kidnapped Sunday night in southern Nigeria, in the Niger Delta," foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke told reporters in Berlin.

"The foreign ministry and our experts on the ground are in contact with the responsible authorities in Nigeria. We are trying everything possible, with these authorities, to resolve this case as soon as possible."

He declined to provide further details in the interest of the hostages' safety.

A Nigerian security source said one of the men works in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, while the other came from Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

Hundreds of foreigners and locals, mostly oil workers -- have been kidnapped since 2006 in Nigeria, mostly in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Many have been released unharmed, but some only after ransom payments.

© 2010 AFP

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