Nigerian gunmen abduct foreign worker

Gunmen have kidnapped a foreign oil worker from an offshore oil rig in southern Nigeria.
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Updated on Mar 31, 2007 05:06 PM IST
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AP | By, Lagos

Gunmen have kidnapped a foreign oil worker from an offshore oil rig in southern Nigeria, officials said on Saturday.

Victor Akenge, the environment commissioner of the West African country's Bayelsa state, said the kidnapping occurred overnight, at around 2:30 am.

He said he did not yet have information on the hostage's nationality.

The incident is the latest in a spate of kidnappings in Nigeria's oil-rich but impoverished Niger River delta region. Nearly 70 foreigners have been taken since the beginning of the year but most are released unharmed after a cash payment.

A Dutch construction worker and two Chinese remain in captivity.

Some of the kidnappers make political demands, including the release of an ex-governor on trial for corruption and a former militant leader charged with treason. Other gangs just demand large cash payments.

Many of the groups enjoy protection from local politicians who are suspected of using them as hired muscle to help rig elections scheduled for next month.

Though Nigeria's oil wealth generates tens of billions of dollars of oil every year, the majority of Nigerians remain mired in poverty.

Throughout the delta region, poor villagers without access to clean water or electricity live side by side with multimillion-dollar oil installations.

Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, is also rated one of the most corrupt countries in the world by Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International.

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