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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
New Nigeria oil worker abductions
Militants in the Niger Delta
Militant attacks have cut Nigeria's oil production by 25%
Unknown gunmen have attacked an oil production barge and snatched a Briton and an Eastern European in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, officials say.

Both workers were kidnapped by armed men in speedboats near Calabar, thought to be a relatively peaceful city in the troubled region.

Some reports say the second abductee is Bulgarian; others say Romanian.

This latest attack comes hours after a three-year-old British girl kidnapped last week was released unharmed.

The men were employees of a local oil company, a police spokesman said.

Haz Iwendi told the BBC News website that the second man was Romanian and that both men were snatched from an oil platform in a village called Efiat in Akwa Ibom State.

"We are in touch with local authorities and working towards an early release," David McLaughlin, a spokesman for UK High Commission in Abuja told the BBC News website.

Travel advice

Including the latest two, about 14 foreign oil workers are currently being held by militants in the swampy creeks of the delta.

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Kidnapping of foreign oil workers is common place in the Niger Delta
More than 200 foreign oil workers or members of their families have been abducted in the region, since militants demanding a larger share of the Niger Delta's oil wealth took up arms.

"Our recently reviewed travel advice on the Niger Delta is still very relevant and we ask British nationals to respect it," Mr McLaughlin said.

It is still not clear which group is behind the latest attack.

Some militant groups blame foreign oil companies for polluting the region and not sharing the profits from oil.

Other operate more like criminal gangs.

A recent upsurge in attacks in the region has led to over 25% cut in Nigeria's 2.6 m barrels per day oil production, officials say.

Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer and the sixth largest supplier of crude to the US.

Although the bulk of the oil comes from the Niger Delta, the region remains deeply impoverished.


SEE ALSO
Nigerian gunmen 'demand ransom'
07 Jul 07 |  Africa



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