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3-Year-Old Abducted in Nigeria's Oil Region


Gunmen in Nigeria have snatched the three-year-old daughter of a foreign worker in the main oil city of Port Harcourt. Gilbert da Costa reports for VOA from Abuja.

Nigerian police say investigations are under way to establish those responsible for the kidnapping of a three-year-old, believed to be the daughter of a British expatriate worker.

Police spokeswoman Ireju Barasua says the toddler was kidnapped while being taken to school.

"They kidnapped her while she was going to school," she said. "They were still going to school, in the process of going to school when they seized the girl. Investigations as to how it happened, investigations as to the other details [continue]."

Criminal kidnappings have become common in the region, which accounts for all the crude in Africa's biggest producer.

Residents say money is likely to be the motive for the child's abduction.

Officially, oil companies and state governments in Nigeria do not pay ransoms in line with the federal government policy, but privately money is paid, often after negotiations.

The girl is believed to be the first child of an expatriate worker seized by suspected criminals in the unruly oil-rich region.

Police spokeswoman Barusua sounded very frustrated with the apparent lack of support from the public in tackling attacks on foreigners in the region.

"I want to believe when they were taking the child this morning, one or two persons might have seen," she said. "If you hide and pick a stone and throw on the car, what are we talking about? Members of the public are not helping, they are not even putting up any effort, nobody is saying, let us come and say 'no' to this thing. What is bad is bad. This culture is not our culture."

Five foreign oil workers were kidnapped Wednesday. Their employer, Lone Star, says it has made contact with the kidnappers and negotiations are ongoing.

More than 200 foreigners have been taken captive in the region since the end of 2005. More than a dozen are still being held.

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