- Three Australians, South African, New Zealander kidnapped
- Company says it is working to ensure men are returned safely
Macmahon Holdings Ltd. said one local worker was shot dead and seven of its employees kidnapped near its operations in Nigeria’s southeastern Cross River state.
Those abducted include three Australian nationals, one South African, a New Zealander and two Nigerian workers, the Perth-based company said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are working to ensure the safe return of all the men involved and are in communication with their families,” the company said.
Police are working with the Nigerian Navy so the victims are released unharmed, the commissioner of police of the state, Jimoh Ozi-Obeh, said on Wednesday. Macmahon is a contractor of cement maker LafargeHolcim Ltd.
The men were in a vehicle and their driver was shot dead, Ozi-Obeh said. No ransom demand had been made by the kidnappers.
A manhunt has been launched and an intelligence team deployed, Cross River state police spokeswoman Irene Ugbo said by phone.
Cross River is part of Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger River delta region where a resurgence of militancy has sent crude output plunging to a 27-year low as oil and gas pipelines have been blown up. The state, which is on the eastern border with neighboring Cameroon, is far from the epicenter of the violence and it wasn’t clear whether the abduction was related to oil militancy.
The attack took place at about 7 a.m. along Edundun bridge in Akpabuyo council of Cross River state, said an eyewitness, Okon Okon. The abductors took the hostages away on a boat they had on standby on the river, he told reporters.