updated 1/12/2007 2:58:48 PM ET 2007-01-12T19:58:48

Nine South Korean pipeline workers kidnapped in Nigeria's restive southern oil region were released Friday, officials said.

The nine Koreans and one Nigerian kidnapped Wednesday were freed with the help of an unarmed neighborhood-watch group and no ransom was paid, Bayelsa State spokesman Ekiyor Welson said in a statement.

The state governor, who is also Nigeria's ruling party vice-presidential candidate in April elections, hailed the "state vigilante outfit Bayelsa Volunteers" — an unarmed youth group that helps police — for aiding in the release. Details weren't released. The captors' identities weren't known.

More than 80 foreign oil workers were kidnapped last year amid an upsurge in violence across the oil-producing south that trimmed a quarter of the usual 2.5 million barrel per day production in Africa's largest crude producer. Two Italians and five Chinese workers taken recently are still in captivity.

Goodluck Jonathan promised there would be no more kidnappings in his state, the statement said.

"The state governor once again gives assurance that the ugly incidence of hostage taking will not happen in the state again as government is putting in place measures to provide employment and empowerment for youths in the state," the statement said.

Abductions common
Hostage takings are common in the Niger Delta region where most inhabitants live in squalor despite the vast mineral stores of their region. Captives are generally freed unharmed after a ransom is paid.

Nigeria's federal government controls resources from the oil industry, apportioning it among the 36 states in Africa's most-populous nation.

Delta region militant groups say they're fighting for greater control of petroleum revenues, while the government calls them thieves intent on gaining cash through kidnappings and selling black-market crude stolen from pipelines.

Nigeria is Africa's largest producer of crude and one of the top overseas suppliers of oil to the United States.

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