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Nigerian Gunmen Kidnap Four Shell Workers in Ambush

BLOOMBERG

By Dulue Mbachu and Tony Tamuno

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian gunmen kidnapped three Britons and a Colombian working for Royal Dutch Shell Plc during an ambush at Obehi, near the West African nation’s oil hub of Port Harcourt, police said.

“Their police escort was shot dead and the driver was shot and injured,” Rita Inoma-Abbey, a police spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview today from Port Harcourt. “We’ve sent our men after them.”

A 2 million naira ($13,250) reward is being offered for information that will assist police with the rescue of the expatriates and arrest of the criminals, she said. The driver is in a critical condition following the attack, which happened at 7:15 a.m. local time while the four were on their way to work, Inoma-Abbey said. No ransom has yet been demanded.

David Williams, a spokesman at The Hague-based Shell, said he couldn’t immediately comment on the abductions. Violence by armed groups, including those seeking more local control of oil wealth, has cut more than 20 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports since 2006 and deterred fresh investments in the country, which vies with Angola as Africa’s leading oil exporter.

Thousands of fighters and their leaders accepted an amnesty offer by President Umaru Yar’Adua last year after the government promised to rehabilitate the fighters and address the grievances of local communities. Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA operate joint ventures for the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. in the region.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dulue Mbachu in Lagos at [email protected]; Tony Tamuno in Port Harcourt via Johannesburg on [email protected]

Last Updated: January 12, 2010 07:58 EST

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