Six British oil-rig workers kidnapped by unknown group off Nigeria's coast

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The Independent Online

Six Britons were among eight foreign workers kidnapped from an oil rig off Nigeria, the rig's Norwegian owner and Nigerian police said yesterday.

The workers, six British, one American and one Canadian, were aboard the drilling rig Bulford Dolphin when it was attacked during the night, Norway's Fred Olsen Energy ASA said in a news release. "No group has claimed responsibility and no demands have been made," a Nigerian police spokesman, Haz Iwendi, said in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. "Security agencies are trailing them to secure the release of the hostages as soon as possible."

Mr Iwendi said the attack occurred near the Dodo River in the country's oil-rich southern delta. Kidnapping by activist militants or those seeking money have been common in the region in recent years.

"We understand that the group [of kidnappers] has been in touch with the local companies about negotiations," said Sheena Wallace of Dolphin Drilling Ltd, the Aberdeen-based subsidiary which operates the rig.

She said the kidnappers struck the platform, which had 84 people aboard, at about 4am on Friday.

Ms Wallace said that families of all the kidnap victims, as well as other crew, had been contacted. She said she did not have the names or other details of the kidnapped oil workers.

Militants have blown up oil pipelines and kidnapped foreign oil workers in Nigeria, Africa's greatest oil producer, to press their demands for local control of oil revenues in the south. Other groups have also seized oil workers to use as bargaining chips in attempts to force oil companies to increase jobs or improve benefits.