Six Foreign Oil Workers Abducted by Gunmen Near Nigeria’s Coast

Gunmen abducted six foreign oil workers near the coast of Nigeria and demanded for a ransom to free them, police said.

The attackers boarded a vessel belonging to Century Group, a Lagos-based oil services company, on Feb. 17 and seized 3 Ukranians, 2 Indians and 1 Russian, Fidelis Odunna, police spokesman for Bayelsa state in oil-rich Niger River delta, said today by phone from the capital, Yenagoa.

While the kidnappers have demanded 200 million naira ($1.3 million) to free the hostages, security forces have launched investigations to locate and free them, he said.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, has seen a renewed surge of violence targeting the industry by armed groups that either steal crude oil from pipelines or kidnap oil workers for ransom. Attacks had declined after thousands of militants fighting for a greater share of the region’s oil wealth for its inhabitants, accepted a government amnesty in 2009 and disarmed.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA run joint ventures with state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. that pump more than 90 percent of the country’s crude.

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