Nigeria Police Say They’re Closing In on Kidnapped Oil Workers

  • Nigerian staff of Nestoil abducted near Port Harcourt Friday
  • NNPC says it may be crippled if attacks aren’t halted in delta

Nigeria’s police are closing in on 15 kidnapped oil workers and are hopeful of rescuing them soon, a spokesman said.

Gunmen attacked a bus carrying 14 Nigerian employees of Nestoil Plc, a Lagos-based oil services company, and a driver on Friday afternoon near the southeastern city of Port Harcourt.

“The security agencies are working on it,” Nnamdi Omoni, a police spokesman, said by phone from Port Harcourt. “It’s all hands on deck. We’ve recovered the vehicle. As soon as possible, they’ll be rescued.”

He declined to say where the workers were being held, saying it may harm the police operation, or whether the gunmen had asked for a ransom.

Kidnappings are common in the oil-producing Niger River delta, with many people being freed after a ransom is paid. Militants in the region have escalated attacks on oil and gas pipelines and export terminals since February, sending Nigeria’s crude production crashing to an almost 30-year low.

The state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., may be “crippled” if the attacks aren’t stopped, it said in an e-mailed statement Saturday.

There’s an “urgent need for government and security agencies to refocus as well as engage” with communities in the Niger Delta, it said.

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