7 expatriate contractors kidnapped in Calabar released without harm

As many as seven contractors, including three Australians and a South African, have been released unharmed four days after they were kidnapped by gunmen in southern Nigeria, local police and a state security adviser said on Sunday.

Police had given conflicting accounts of how many had been seized and what their nationalities were but they all worked for cement company Lafarge and were taken on the outskirts of Calabar, capital of Cross River State, in the Niger Delta.

Cross River State Commissioner Jimoh Ozi-Obeh said they were released “unhurt” on Sunday but gave no further details.

The state governor’s security adviser, Jude Ngajim said five expatriates and two Nigerians had been released.

“They are safe and sound,” he said, noting that a doctor had made medicals checks and pronounced them “fit and sound”.

Kidnappings of foreigners are common in the region, which holds most of the OPEC member’s crude oil and contributes about 70 percent of national income. Nigeria was Africa’s top oil producer until a recent spate of attacks on oil facilities.

Lafarge Africa and Australian contractors Macmahon Holdings Ltd could not immediately be reached for comment.




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