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Attackers abduct more oil workers in volatile delta

[Nigeria] An armed Ijaw militant walks past the smoking ruins of houses in Tombia, near Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta, following fighting with a rival gang in July 2004.
Un milicien armé passant devant les ruines de maisons démolies pendant des affrontements entre gangs rivaux, en 2004, à Port Harcourt. (George Osodi)

Gunmen in a speed boat seized two Filipino oil workers in the latest in a spate of attacks targeting oil installations and workers in Nigeria’s oil rich but impoverished Niger delta.

Norway-based oil services company Petroleum Geo-Sciences said the two contract workers hired by the firm were abducted around noon on Tuesday while in a small boat near a jetty used by the company.

“They drove (them) off in a boat and we’ve had no contact with them,” said company spokesman Ola Bosterud.

The security forces have mounted a search to trace the missing oil workers and their abductors, said Navy Captain Obiora Medani, spokesman for the Nigerian navy.

“I can confirm that the incident took place and we’re searching for them,” he said, declining to give any further details.

It is the latest incident in a rash of kidnappings and attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta that have cut Nigeria’s substantial oil exports by 20 percent. Despite producing nearly all the oil that is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, the delta is one of the most impoverished regions in Africa’s most populous country.

The militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which has claimed most of the attacks since the beginning of the year, said it was not responsible for the latest attack.

Several other armed groups are also active in the Niger Delta, with some of them linked to criminal gangs that kidnap oil workers for ransom. Hostages are usually released unharmed.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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