Nigerians Abduct Three Americans
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ Armed youths stormed an offshore oil exploration rig used by Texaco Inc. in Nigeria, taking three Americans and five others hostage, a company official said Thursday.
A Briton, a South African, an Italian, a Croatian and a Nigerian oil worker were also being held, said Paul Weeditz, a spokesman for White Plains, N.Y.-based Texaco.
``There were no injuries we know of and no damage to the rig,″ Weeditz said from Houston.
A Texaco official in Nigeria, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the hostages were taken at gunpoint Wednesday from the drilling rig and ferried ashore to an undisclosed location.
The official said the youths were demanding a ransom and improved infrastructure for their communities in the Niger River delta region.
Although Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers, the people who live in the oil-rich delta often exist in subsistence poverty without electricity or running water.
Oil companies are frequently the targets of protests and occasionally hostage-takings as local communities vent their anger over what they see as neglect by the government and the oil companies.
Shell in recent weeks was forced to temporarily shut down several oil pumping relay stations after armed youths stormed the facilities and demanded compensation from the government.
Texaco says the workers taken on Wednesday were contract employees working for other oil service companies.
Belinda Doyle of Glenmora, La., said her husband, Robby, a rig manager employed by Noble Drilling US Inc., was one of the Americans taken hostage. Mrs. Doyle has been handling a stream of calls by worried family and friends, and searching for hope.
``They took him for negotiations they’re not going to hurt him. My husband is all right and the other men are, too,″ she told the Alexandria (La.) Town Talk newspaper.
Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos were unavailable for comment.