Mississippians held hostage in Nigeria come home - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippians held hostage in Nigeria come home

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Two American oil rig workers who had been held hostage by militants in Nigeria arrived home Friday but did not publicly discuss what happened while they were captive.

The Mississippi men - James Robertson of Silver Creek and Jeffrey James of Winona - had always told their families a hostage situation could occur while they worked in the oil-rich area.

Robertson and James were whisked into private vehicles Friday after arriving at the Jackson-Evers International Airport. They did not speak to reporters.

The Mississippi men were among 19 hostages freed Wednesday after Nigeria's military raided a camp where captives were held by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

On Friday, the militant group said it would launch new attacks.

Robertson and James worked the rig for contractor Transocean Ltd. Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for Transocean, said the company's other worker who was held hostage was a French national.

Cantwell said Friday he didn't know how long the men would be off the job.

"Obviously, we're delighted that they're safe and returning to their families. There will be some evaluation of their health," Cantwell said by phone from Texas.

Bettye James, the wife of 45-year-old Jeffrey James, said the family had always known it was possible he could be taken hostage working on the rig.

"Each time I told my husband goodbye, it would be 'goodbye' because I didn't know if he would come home," Bettye James said a day before her husband arrived back in Mississippi.

Brenda Robertson said her son, 47-year-old James Robertson, had always tried to assure relatives they shouldn't worry if he was ever captured "'because all they want is money and they'll take care of us."'

Bettye James said her husband had worked for Transocean for 18 years. It wasn't clear how long Robertson had worked for the company.

In Winona, residents held a small celebration for James with decorations of yellow ribbons and American flags.

Mayor Jerry Flowers said he planned to visit with James' family. Flowers said people are curious about what happened while he was captive.

"A lot of people don't know the particulars," Flowers said.

Kim James said her father-in-law "wants to be with his family alone."

Beverly Fortenberry, one of James Robertson's cousins, said the family was just thankful to God "for allowing the men who held them captive to be nice to him."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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