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Four Oil Workers Seized in Latest Nigeria Kidnapping

Armed men seized four foreign oil workers Sunday in the latest kidnapping in the oil-rich Niger Delta. It was the fifth kidnapping in the troubled region this month.

Seven armed men stormed a crowded nightclub in Nigeria's southern oil city of Port Harcourt late Sunday and kidnapped four foreign oil workers. An American and a Briton were said to be among those abducted.

Monday, three Philippine gas workers were released after 10 days in captivity. Port Harcourt journalist Joe Onah witnessed the transfer of the men to Philippine embassy officials and says the ex-hostages looked well.

"The attorney general of Rivers State took the hostages on behalf of the state government," said Onah. "They were handed over to the Philippine embassy in Nigeria and they were in good condition. They said there was no ransom paid, that is the hostages were saying that as far as they were concerned there was no ransom demanded."

Hostages are usually released after a few days when a ransom has been paid.

Criminology Professor Etannibi Alemika, of Jos University in central Nigeria, says the violence that started as a protest against years of neglect and injustice, has now taken a more complex dimension and could go on for a long time.

"It has assumed an economic dimension of its own where people really look forward to reaping a lot and that has broken down into many factions in that area; among traditional rulers, among politicians, among the elite; all of them have their own factions of the militants," he said. "I think that is the point we are now which is a very dangerous thing because it makes finding an end to that type of violence very difficult because there are now entrenched interests for it to continue, to be perpetuated in spite of the original grievances."

Nigerian militants have launched a wave of kidnappings and attacks on oil facilities and personnel in the past seven months, leading to a 25 percent cut in oil output in Africa's largest oil producer.