Niger Delta
Niger Delta

A German national, who worked for the construction firm Julius Berger, has been freed less than a week after Nigerian gunmen kidnapped him and killed another German citizen in a raid on their vehicles, the company said on Thursday.

The company provided no details on the release.

Ogun state police spokesman Abimbola Oyeyemi said the hostage was "rescued" on Thursday, but the security services have previously claimed successful rescue operations even when ransoms were paid.

The staff and a contractor for the firm in southwest Nigeria's Ogun state on Friday, making their way to work in a quarry, when four gunmen emerged from the bush and opened fire on two vehicles in which the two men were traveling.

The firm said at the time that the group was traveling without their security escorts, Reuters reported.

Company statement

“Julius Berger Nigeria ... is pleased to ... announce the release of the company's member of staff,” a statement said. "The company would like to thank the all those who assisted in achieving a swift and safe release, especially government authorities and security services."

Nigeria is one of the world's worst countries for kidnapping, a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise seen as one of several major security headaches in Africa's top oil producer and biggest economy.

Foreign companies, especially oil majors and large construction firms, typically require expatriate staff to travel with police escort because of the high threat of kidnapping in Nigeria.

Julius Berger has operated in Nigeria since 1965 and has more 600 employees in the country, according to the company's website. Many of its staff are Nigerian nationals.

Material for this report came from Reuters and AFP.