Militants condemn girl's kidnap

Lagos - The most high-profile armed group in southern Nigeria on Friday condemned the kidnapping of a three-year-old British girl there as "an abomination".

Jomo Ngomo, spokesperson for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said: "It is an abomination. We will search for the abductors and mete out suitable punishment at the appropriate time."

The kidnappers of Margaret Hill called her British father Michael Hill several hours after the capture on Thursday to assure him she was "safe and sound". It was unclear whether they demanded a ransom for her release.

Industry and security sources describe the MEND as the best-equipped and best-organised militant group in Nigeria, although there were numerous organisations involved in kidnappings and attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Some militants claimed to be fighting for a larger share of oil resources for locals, but there were also many armed gangs who wanted ransom money.

At least 200 foreigners, mostly oil workers, had been kidnapped in the region since the beginning of 2006. Most had been freed again after a few days or weeks, and often a ransom was paid.

Earlier this week, MEND announced the end of its month-long truce called to allow talks with the new government.

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