x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Nigeria intensifies search for four kidnapped foreigners

Four foreigners were kidnapped during deadly attack on oil services company vessel.

LAGOS //Nigeria today intensified its search for four foreigners kidnapped during a deadly attack on a vessel belonging to an oil services company, the navy said.

The suspected pirates stormed the vessel belonging to the Sea Trucks Group early pn Saturday in the Gulf of Guinea, an area that has seen a sharp spike in the number of reported maritime attacks over the past six months.

"We have intensified our search for the kidnappers and the abducted four foreigners," Nigerian navy spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliyu said.

Another naval officer, who declined to be named because he has no authority to speak to reporters, said that the search for the foreigners has continued in the creeks and waterways in the region.

"We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to get back these four foreigners who were kidnapped aboard the vessel. We are redoubling our efforts," he said.

A spokeswoman for Sea Trucks Group, which provides support vessels to oil companies operating in Nigeria, said Sunday that her company was focused on the safe release of the hostages.

"We are very focused on getting our crew back safely," Corrie van Kessel said by telephone.

She declined to say categorically if contacts have been established with the abductors and efforts being made to secure their freedom, saying that releasing such information "could jeopardise current efforts".

Van Kessel confirmed that the four abducted foreigners were from Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Thailand.

Sea Trucks Group is heavily involved in the oil and gas sector in the Niger Delta.

The group, which also operates in Australia and East Asia, was founded as a Nigerian firm in 1977 before expanding and currently has a "corporate support office" in the Netherlands, according to its website.