26 May 2007 - 16:47
  • News Code: 105599

The peace of the Bayelsa waterways was again tested in the early hours of yesterday as armed gunmen seized 10 oil workers off the Atlantic coast of Sangana in the Brass local government area of the state.

The expatriates, three Americans, four Britons, a South African, an Indian and a Nigerian were working for US-based Transcoastal Corporation, contracted to a Nigerian oil firm, Conoil.

 

Saturday Vanguard gathered that the armed gunmen in three speedboats stormed the vessel in the deep sea where the expatriates were working and whisked them away after overpowering the military men attached to the facility between 3am and 4.30am. The abducted oil workers were said to be in the vessel laying pipelines off the Atlantic coast when they were snatched by the militants.

 

It was however learnt that three of the kidnapped men, a South African, Indian and Nigerian oil worker were later released by their captors but still made away with the three Americans and four Britons into the windy labyrinth of creeks. No group has claimed responsibility for the action in which an official of the state government who spoke anonymously to Saturday Vanguard said contacts have been dispatched to the creek to ascertain the whereabouts of abducted expatriates with a view to securing their release.

 

A foremost militant group in the Niger Delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has distanced itself from the dawn kidnap which yesterday caused fresh tension in the nation"s troubled oil industry.

 

MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo in a reply to Saturday Vanguard"s enquiry via email stated: "We had nothing to do with these abductions."

 

 

When contacted the state police public relations officer, Mr. Ibokette Iniobong (DSP), confirmed the incident saying ten oil workers were abducted by armed gunmen in the early hours of the day. He however could not ascertain whether there were causalities during the invasion of the oil facility by the militants.

 

Earlier in an interview, the governor-elect, Chief Timipre Sylva, had said he would open a channel of discussion with the militants with a view to enthroning lasting peace in the state.

 

"We have to interact with the boys. I will engage them meaningfully and orientate them to give peace a chance so as to give room for the rapid development of the state," the governor elect stated.

 

PIN/ALLAFRICA.COM

News Code 105599

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