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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Attack on Nigerian leader's house
Nigeria's Vice President-elect Goodluck Jonathan. File photo
Mr Jonathan will become vice-president in two weeks time
Four unknown gunmen have abducted a Lebanese construction worker in Nigeria's volatile oil-rich Niger Delta, a top military official says.

Gen Lawrence Ngubane told the Associated Press that the man was snatched from a work compound in the city of Warri shortly after sunrise.

The kidnappers abandoned their car and a gun and fled in their abductee's vehicle, he says.

This brings to 15 the number of foreign workers being held by the militants.

"I am still not sure of his nationality but people say he is a Lebanese. He works for Niger Cat," Delta state government spokesman Sheddy Ozoene told the AFP news agency.

Around 100 foreign workers and a few Nigerians have been kidnapped so far this year in the swampy creeks of the Niger Delta where the bulk of Nigeria's oil comes from.

The hostages are usually released unharmed after ransom deals between the kidnappers and oil companies, a claim often denied by both sides.

The Nigerian government must move on from press release responses and really deal with these attackers
Benjamin Akande, US-based Nigeria expert

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

Although Nigeria's oil money comes from the Niger Delta, majority of its people remain deeply impoverished.

The militants often say they are fighting for larger control of the oil money coming from their lands and release of two leaders being held on charges of treason and money laundering.

The militants - the most prominent of which is the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) - stepped up their attacks after last month's elections which gave the governing party a landslide victory.

Local and international observers have criticised the elections as deeply flawed. The opposition says the vote was rigged and has called for a re-run.

In addition to kidnappings, the militants have also bombed several oil pipelines, cutting down production and helping push world oil prices to near-record highs.

The militants have promised more disruptions ahead of next week's inauguration of the new government.

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