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Nine foreign workers kidnapped

Foreigners working for oil giant Shell have been kidnapped by militants from a barge in Niger Delta. The nationality of the victims is not known.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 18:43 IST

Nine foreigners working for the oil giant Shell, have been kidnapped by armed militants from a barge in the Niger Delta.

A manager of the company said that guerrillas had attacked a pipe laying boat off the Forcados oil terminal in the early hours of the morning, and had taken the men hostage.

The guerillas also attacked and damaged a part of the oil terminal and clashed with Nigerian soldiers.

The nationality of the captured workers is not clear. All that is known is that they were working with Nigerian colleagues on a barge belonging to the US engineering firm Willbros.

Meanwhile, an e-mailed statement from the ethnic Ijaw militant group said they had launched a campaign against the government and the oil industry, in protest against the two air strikes against them in the past week.

"As a result of attacks against the Ijaw communities in Delta State, we decided in response to pleas from our kin in these communities, to carry out strikes against oil and gas facilities in Delta state," the statement said.

"Workers in the oil industry are hereby requested to vacate all installations with immediate effect," it added.

The statement also warned that all pipelines, flow stations and crude loading platforms would be targeted for destruction within the next few hours by their units.

Henry Imhanlenjaye, a boat captain from the nearby port city of Warri, said that he heard gunfire around the Foracdos terminal and that an explosion rocked the creeks.

Last month, ethnic Ijaw militants blew up an oil pipeline, kidnapped four Western oil contractors and held them for 19 days and attacked several oil facilities, killing a total of 22 soldiers and police and three workers.

First Published: Feb 18, 2006 15:49 IST