Gunmen kidnap two French nationals in Nigeria: officialsGunmen have kidnapped two French nationals in oil-rich southern Nigeria, local police and French officials said Sunday.
The French foreign ministry in Paris confirmed the pair were kidnapped late Saturday outside the oil hub of Port Harcourt Port Harcourt (här`kərt, –kôrt), city (1991 est. pop. 362,000), SE Nigeria, a deepwater port on the Bonny River in the Niger delta. , shortly after Rivers State Rivers State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria. Its capital is Port Harcourt. It is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the North by Imo and Abia States, to the East by Akwa Ibom State and to the West by Bayelsa and Delta states. police spokeswoman Rita Abbey announced they were seized at Onne port.
"The foreign ministry confirms the kidnapping last night of two French nationals working in Nigeria, on the outskirts of the oil hub of Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria," the French ministry said in a statement.
It said officials in Paris and in Nigeria were working to free those seized "as soon as possible", adding that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had ordered that the ministry's crisis unit be immediately activated.
In the past two-and-a-half years the Niger Delta The Niger Delta, the delta of the Niger River in Nigeria, is a densely populated region sometimes called the Oil Rivers because it was once a major producer of palm oil. has seen numerous kidnappings targeting foreign companies. They were claimed by armed groups who say they are fighting for a greater share of the oil wealth for the region's inhabitants
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Kidnapping has become a lucrative business with many armed groups collecting ransoms in exchange for the release of their hostages.
Violence in the southern region has reduced Nigeria's total oil production by a quarter since January 2006.
Nigeria was Africa's largest oil producer until it was overtaken in April by Angola, according to according to
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2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC OPEC: see Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
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