News / Africa

Gunmen Attack Oil Rig Off Nigerian Coast

Militans of Delta Niger (File Photo)
Militans of Delta Niger (File Photo)

An oil company says gunmen in Nigeria's troubled Niger Delta region have attacked an offshore rig, kidnapping five people and wounding two others.

The company that runs the rig, Afren, has not confirmed the nationalities of those kidnapped.  But security sources say they are two Americans, two French and one Canadian.

Gunmen in speedboats late Sunday attacked the oil rig, located about 12 kilometers off the coast of Nigeria's Akwa Ibom state.

The company said the two wounded employees have leg injuries and were flown by helicopter to a clinic on shore.

Afren said the attackers also targeted a support vessel, but that both the vessel and the oil rig are under the company's control.  Drilling has been temporarily suspended on the rig, which had recently arrived in the area.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Niger Delta is home to criminal gangs that steal oil and take hostages for ransom payments.  The region also has militants who say they are fighting for a fairer distribution of oil wealth.

The main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, has carried out many attacks and kidnappings aimed at the oil industry.  

Hundreds of militants laid down their arms under a government amnesty program last year, but some factions of the group may still be active.  MEND claimed responsibility for bombings in the capital, Abuja, that killed 12 people on October 1.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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