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Nigerian Militants Abduct Oil Workers


Eight foreign oil workers have been abducted from an oil rig off the coast of Southern Nigeria. Gilbert da Costa in Abuja tells VOA, the incident is likely to compound concerns within the oil industry, which has been frequently targeted for kidnappings and attacks.

Nigerian authorities are hoping to make contact soon with gunmen who kidnapped eight oil workers from an oil rig off the coast of Nigeria.

Friday's attack is embarrassing for the Nigerian authorities, and particularly President Olusegun Obasanjo, who has held several meetings with groups from the turbulent delta region, who are demanding a greater share of the oil wealth in the delta.

The government recently granted oil exploration rights to a company linked to militants in the delta.

Some delta youth groups say the government's attempt to negotiate with delta residents is creating problems, because some militants may have been excluded from the process.

Daniel Ebahor is of the Niger Delta Youth Foundation, which recently embarked on a peace campaign in the delta.

"The solution still lies with the government, and Obasanjo has been holding meetings with the boys in Otta," he said. "So, since he has disagreed with us to form a forum to resolve the issues, and he wants to resolve it personally in Otta farm, I believe we should just fold our arms and watch the way he wants to play the game in the Niger Delta."

More than 20 gunmen in speed boats kidnapped the foreign oil workers in a night-time raid. Six of the seized workers are from Britain, one is a Canadian and one is from the U.S.

An ethnic Ijaw militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, has attacked the Nigerian oil industry since February, leading to a 25 percent cut in Nigeria's 2.4 million barrels per day production of crude oil.

There is no indication of any link between the kidnappers and the group, which is campaigning for greater control over oil resources.

About 84 workers were on the rig at the time of the attack. Kidnappings of foreign workers have been increasingly frequent in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

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