Saturday, May 24, 2008

Two foreign oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria: military

LAGOS (AFP) — Unidentified gunmen on Friday kidnapped two foreign oil workers, one Pakistani and one Maltese, in southern Nigeria, the military said.
The men, who work for Texas-based drilling company Lonestar which services Nigeria's oil industry, were kidnapped in the town of Omoku, outside the main oil city Port Harcourt, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Musa Sagir said.
The Maltese government later confirmed the kidnapping of its national and named him as Gorg Scerri. A foreign ministry spokesman told AFP they were in contact with their consulate in Nigeria and would work diplomatically for his release.
No details of the attack were available and no group claimed immediate responsibility.
The most prominent armed group in Nigeria had threatened on Wednesday more acts of sabotage against the nation's oil industry, accusing the government of "insincerity."
"We will continue our campaign of sabotage on the oil industry as long as the government is insincere in the handling of the Niger Delta crisis," the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) said in a statement.
The group earlier this month claimed responsibility for an attack on Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell's facilities in southern Nigeria.
Shell confirmed the attack on its oil delivery lines.
MEND has also been responsible for the seizure of local and expatriate workers as hostages, though they are normally released unharmed.
Aside MEND, some other armed groups carry out attacks on expatriate and local workers in the oil industry as well as oil installations.
Overall, violence in the Niger Delta has reduced Nigeria's total production by a quarter in the past two years.

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