Eight foreign oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria (Lead)

July 26th, 2008 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Lagos, July 26 (Xinhua) A group of gunmen kidnapped eight foreign oil workers from an oil vessel off the coast of the restive Niger Delta region in Nigeria earlier Saturday, agencies reported. Military spokesman Sagir Musa was quoted as saying that “around six heavily armed bandits attacked an LPG tanker, shot two civilians and abducted eight of the expatriates, whose identity is not yet ascertained”.

The unidentified gunmen carried out the attack in a speed boat in the small hours, according to the spokesman.

Kidnapping of oil workers is rampant in the region, where local residents are living in poverty despite the huge amount of oil produced. Local people complain that the oil production has polluted their land and water.

Nigeria’s oil output has dropped about 20 percent since militants in the delta region launched violent sabotage attacks against oil facilities and started abduction of oil workers in early 2006, partly resulting in the soaring of the world oil prices.

Though hostages are usually freed unharmed after a ransom is paid, the kidnappings sometimes cause injuries and deaths.

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