Nigerian militants say they will release Matthew Maguire, a British hostage held in the southern oil swamps for almost nine months.

An e-mail from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said Mr Maguire would be freed because 1 June is his birthday.

Mr Maguire was one of 27 hostages taken from an oil services boat in September – all the other hostages were released.

There has been fierce fighting in recent weeks between Mend and the army.

This has mostly been in Delta State, while it is believed that Mr Maguire is being held in Rivers State.

“Today, June 1 is Mathew Maguire’s birthday. He has spent close to 9 months in captivity and we hope to release him today as his gift,” Mend said in a statement from their pseudonymous spokesman Jomo Gbomo.

They warned the military not to try and attack them in an attempt to rescue Mr Maguire.

The British High Commission in Nigeria said it was “investigating” Mend’s claim and would comment when they had more information.

British hostage Robin Hughes, taken from the same boat as Mr Maguire, was released in April because he had fallen sick.



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