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Gunmen Kidnap Three-Year-Old Child in Nigeria

Gunmen in Nigeria's Niger Delta have abducted the three-year-old son of a local chief, just four days after a British girl of the same age was released by her abductors. Gilbert da Costa reports on the rising spate of child kidnapping in the oil-producing region.

Kidnappings are common in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Journalist Tony Tamuno, who is based in Port Harcourt, the major city of the region, expects the kidnappers of three-year-old Samuel Amadi to demand what kidnappers usually do: ransom for his release. "The young boy's father is a chief in Port Harcourt here and maybe they [kidnappers] might ask him to drop some money for his toddler. It is all about cash; criminals have taken over," he said.

The boy was seized while he was being driven to school in Port Harcourt on Thursday. The armed kidnappers blocked the car and seized the young child.

A three-year-old British girl was kidnapped by similar methods last week in Port Harcourt.

The girl's family and officials in the region said no money had been paid. Until recently it was rare for children to be seized, but at least three children have been abducted since the beginning of June.

Some 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta since the start of 2006. Most of them have been released after payment of ransom.

Even the country's political armed groups have denounced what they claim is the commercialization of hostage taking.