Analysts say the increase in the number of kidnappings in the oil-rich Niger Delta is an indication of more troubles for both the government and foreign oil workers. They warn that if a political solution is not found soon, Nigeria?s oil production could be cut by half and the Delta could become a battleground between security forces and militants.

Ibiba Don Pedro is an award-winning journalist and environmentalist, one of the few people to have visited the area. She told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Chinedu Offor that the current upsurge in kidnappings is not a surprise.

?Every once in a while people notice an increase in these kidnappings and sabotage of oil facilities, but it is nothing new. It has been going on for decades.?

She says the recent upsurge in abductions is not the work of Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). ?There are other groups made up of hungry and unemployed youths who are picking up these expatriate workers for the sake of making money through ransoms. If it were MEND or groups associated with it who have some kind of ideology behind their activities, I would really worry.?