US citizen kidnapped in Nigeria returns to US

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William Gregory Ock
William Gregory Ock

 A U.S. citizen kidnapped by gunmen in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta returned to Georgia on Sunday after being held captive for a week, his family said.

William Gregory Ock arrived in Atlanta on Sunday morning to a warm greeting from family and friends, said his sister-in-law Tamara Lane. She said Ock, 50, is feeling well but not yet ready to talk about his experience.

“We’re all very excited. We had a big turnout for him, and he looks great,” Lane said. “We just hope he gets some good rest.”

U.S. Embassy officials said Ock was released after being captured in Warri in Delta state on Jan. 20 but declined to offer further details, citing privacy rules.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether a ransom had been paid to secure his release, although many companies in the region carry kidnap insurance. Authorities say kidnappers had previously demanded a $330,000 ransom for Ock’s safe return.

The attack took place outside a bank branch in Warri, one of the main cities in the Niger Delta, an oil-rich region where foreign firms pump 2.4 million barrels of crude oil a day. The gunmen ambushed Ock as he came outside, fatally shot his police escort and then abducted him, said Charles Muka, a Delta state police spokesman.

He said investigators suspect the gunmen trailed him for some time before the attack, one of several recent assaults targeting foreign workers. A recent U.S. State Department travel advisory said there were five reported kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Nigeria in 2011.

Lane said Ock and his family are grateful for all the help they received during this ordeal.

“The family just wishes to thank everybody for their well wishes, prayers and thoughts,” Lane said. “We have had such amazing support.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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