A Pakistani construction manager has been seized by gunmen in Nigeria's troubled oil producing region, where at least 12 other foreigners are being held by armed groups. Gilbert da Costa has more for VOA in this report from Abuja.

A group of seven gunmen seized the Pakistani road construction manager in Bodo, southern Nigeria.

The kidnappers have reportedly issued a ransom demand. The police say they are investigating the attack.

The Italian company Gitto for whom he worked is handling a federal government-sponsored road construction project in the restive region.

Bare-Ara Kpala, a local rights activist and spokesman of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, says Bodo has witnessed violence involving rival cults or youth gangs.

"Those that kidnapped him [Pakistani], we do not know for now," said Kpala. "But for some time, Bodo has been a place where cults have been very strong. Cultists from other parts of the Niger Delta have camped there and a lot of things have been happening in that area."

Armed groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta are still holding at least 12 other foreigners. More than 200 foreigners have been seized since last year and nearly all have been released in exchange for money.

Oil companies have moved expatriate families from the region. The violence has forced the closure of several oil fields and crippled Nigeria's oil exports.