British oil worker taken hostage in Nigeria

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The Independent Online

Diplomats were trying yesterday to secure the release of a British oil worker kidnapped from a rig in Nigeria.

The unnamed man was seized by an armed gang during a raid on the offshore installation early on Saturday. He was reportedly working on the Bulford Dolphin rig, 40 miles from the Niger Delta. The Scottish man is thought to have been taken with another foreign worker, but this has not been confirmed.

Victor Akenge, the environment commissioner for Bayelsa state, said the kidnapping happened at around 2.30am.

Foreign Office officials said embassy staff in Lagos were in contact with Nigerian officials. A spokeswoman said: "I believe he was seized with another foreign national.

"We are in contact with authorities and hoping to bring a swift and peaceful resolution to the incident."

The incident is the latest in a spate of kidnappings in Nigeria's oil-rich but impoverished Niger River Delta region.

Nearly 70 foreigners have been taken since the beginning of 2007, but most have been released unharmed after a cash payment.

A Dutch construction worker and two Chinese remain in captivity.

Four Scots were held for two weeks last year before being released.

Some of the kidnappers make political demands, including the release of a former governor on trial for corruption and a former militant leader charged with treason.

Other gangs just demand large cash payments.