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AAP News Australasia: Govt, Shell working for release of Australian man kidnapped in Nigeria

David Crawshaw,
Published: Jul 05, 2007

CANBERRA, July 5 AAP – Foreign affairs officials say they are working with oil giant Shell to try to secure the release of an Australian kidnapped by armed militants in Nigeria.

The man, named in media reports as Jason Lane from Queensland, was taken hostage yesterday alongside four other foreign contractors, including two New Zealanders, who had been drilling an oil well in Nigeria’s volatile south.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said today the Australian high commission in Abuja, the capital, was “working closely with the company to secure the man’s release”. The Australian government was taking the matter “very seriously”, a DFAT spokeswoman said. She was unable to confirm the Australian’s identity or provide details about his health, but said the man’s next of kin had been informed.

Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil producers, is notorious for kidnappings of foreign oil workers. The Niger Delta has been at the centre of a confrontation between the government, militants who claim to be fighting for a larger share of oil resources for locals, and armed gangs out to make ransom money.

In May, an Australian was among a group of foreign workers abducted by militant groups and subsequently released. DFAT’s official travel advisory warns Australians to reconsider all travel to Nigeria – the second-highest threat level on the ranking system – and advises against all travel to the Niger Delta, and the south-east, central and northern parts of the country.

“Recent credible reports indicate that militant groups intend to conduct attacks against oil pipelines and facilities in the Niger Delta region,” the advisory says. “The exact timing of the attacks is not known, however they are believed to be imminent. “There is a high threat of kidnapping in Nigeria.” AAP dcr/jt/mn

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