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No word on Kiwi kidnapped in Nigeria

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/06/2016

A New Zealander is among a group of contractors kidnapped by armed militants in Nigeria, who shot dead their local driver.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the Kiwi was among the expatriate workers taken in the early Wednesday morning attack near the city of Calabar, in the south of the country.

The workers, including three Australians, a South African and a Nigerian, were contractors for cement company Lafarge Africa.

The New Zealand government was in contact with the New Zealander's family and trying to get more information, including from the mining company and Australian authorities, the ministry said.

Two of the group managed to flee, Irene Ugbo, a spokeswoman for Cross River state police, adding she did not know the nationality of the workers still being held.

The kidnappers had yet to contact police, she said.

According to local publication Vanguard about 30 heavily armed militants ambushed the contractors' convoy of four vehicles and stopped it by killing the lead driver.

It appeared they had a boat at a nearby beach waiting for them, a witness said.

Police were working with the navy to ensure the victims were released, police commissioner Jimoh Ozi-Obeh told local reporters.

MFAT's Safetravel website warns of the dangers of terrorism and kidnapping in parts of Nigeria, where attacks are carried out against foreign oil companies and expatriate workers.

New Zealand doesn't have a diplomatic presence in Nigeria and MFAT says its ability to help New Zealanders is severely limited.

Lafarge Africa says it had been informed of the incident by Australian contractor Macmahon.

"Macmahon is working with the security agencies to resolve this situation," said Viola Graham-Douglas, a spokeswoman for Lafarge Africa. Macmahon has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Nigeria has a long-standing problem with criminal gangs kidnapping wealthy locals and expatriate workers for ransom.

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