4 Mormon Missionaries Abducted in Nigeria Released Unharmed

Associated Press/February 21, 2007
By Debbie Hummel

Four Mormon missionaries were released unharmed Wednesday after being held hostage for more than three days by kidnappers in Nigeria's oil region, church officials said.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders in Nigeria worked with local and tribal leaders to end the kidnapping, said M. Russell Ballard, one of the church's governing leaders.

The church gave the kidnappers $810 to cover the expenses of caring for the men during their capture, Ballard said. He did not characterize the payment as ransom for their release.

"I think they thought they were taking people connected to the oil agencies and were hoping for a very handsome ransom," Ballard said.

The men, all Nigerian nationals between the ages of 20 and 25, were kidnapped from their apartment near Port Harcourt Saturday night. On Wednesday, they were at the home of their church bishop in Port Harcourt, Ballard said.

Ballard said he did not know who their kidnappers were or under what conditions they were held.

Scores of foreign workers have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta region since January. Hostages are generally released unharmed.

The church has 74,055 members in Nigeria and 352 young missionaries serving there, church officials have said.

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