UYO, Nigeria (AP) – Gunmen dressed as soldiers kidnapped four Lebanese expatriates working for a construction company in Nigeria’s restive and oil-rich south, an attack that left four people dead after a firefight, security forces said Saturday.
The Lebanese kidnap victims all worked for road construction company Stemco on a project in Akwa Ibom state, an oil-producing state in the Niger Delta, said state police commissioner Walter Regbere.
The attack happened late Friday and a gun battle left a police officer, a soldier, a civilian and one of the disguised kidnappers dead, Regbere said.
“No group has claimed responsibility for the attack,” the commissioner told reporters Saturday.
Police took one person into custody after the attack, Regbere said.
Foreign oil companies working in the Niger Delta region face regular attacks by militants who have targeted pipelines, kidnapped petroleum company workers and fought government troops since 2006. However, the level of violence used during the attack hasn’t been seen for some time in a region supposedly brought under control by a government-sponsored amnesty program.
No militant group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack. Criminal gangs in the region also have stepped up their own kidnappings, branching from expatriates to seize middle-class Nigerians and those with political connections for ransom as well.