Nigerian police say gunmen have killed two local workers at a hydroelectric dam project in Niger state and abducted three Chinese workers.
Police said in a statement Thursday that the incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon.
They say heavily armed gunmen opened fire in broad daylight on Chinese expatriates and local staff working on a hydro-electric transmission project near Gussase village in central Niger state.
Niger State police spokesperson Wasiu Abiodun said the police tactical team immediately responded to the attack, exchanged fire with gangs and rescued four other Chinese nationals and two local workers in the process.
The local workers later died in the hospital of gunshot wounds, authorities said.
Commissioner of police in Niger state Monday Bala says authorities are working to rescue the three Chinese abductees.
"We have since mobilized officers and men, our intelligence team, they'll all be deployed so that we can rescue the victims," said Bala. "We are collaborating with all the stakeholders or the communities to give us vital information, that is, intelligence, as to their movement so that we can nip it in the bud earlier on."
The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria has not commented on the incident, but expatriates are often victims of armed attacks like this in a bid to squeeze huge ransoms from their companies.
Last year, Niger state witnessed increased attacks by criminal gangs or bandits, including an attack on an Islamic seminary where many young students were kidnapped.
In response to mounting pressure, Nigerian authorities recently designated criminal gangs as terrorist organizations.