British girl kidnapped in Nigeria

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Gunmen in Nigeria have kidnapped a three-year-old British girl in southern Nigeria - and then threatened to kill her unless her father takes her place.

Michael Hill, a UK national and oil industry consultant, works for Texan company Lone Star.

Margaret Hill was snatched yesterday as she was being dropped for school in the city of Port Harcourt in the southern Rivers state. Her mother, a Nigerian national named Oluchi Hill, says that the kidnappers then phoned her to set up a meeting and demand that Mr Hill take his daughter's place.

But neither the police or the Hills could locate the town in the neighbouring state where the meeting was supposed to take place. The kidnappers then threatened to kill the three-year-old if Mr Hill did not come within three hours.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the abduction - but the most high profile militant group in the region has described the incident as an "abomination".

"We will search for the abductors and mete out suitable punishment at the appropriate time," Jomo Ngomo, spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), commented, in an email statement.

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