Five employees of an Australian company including two Australians, two Nigerians and a South African were kidnapped on Wednesday after an ambush of their vehicle in the Cross River State of Nigeria.
The driver of the vehicle that belongs to the Australian mining and engineering company MacMahon, was shot dead at the Akpabuyo district, near Calabar where the incident occured, police confirmed.
“Five people were kidnapped, including two Australians, one South African and two Nigerians. The driver of the vehicle was shot dead,” Jimoh Ozi-Obeh, State Commissioner of Police said.
He added that no one has yet claimed responsibility for the abduction nor announced a ransom in exchange for the release of the hostages, assuring that the authorities were doing everything in their power to free them.
According to local media reports, the kidnappers had laid ambush under a bridge crossing the river and after the attack, they fled with the hostages aboard their boat hidden under the bridge.
Viola Graham-Douglas, a spokesperson for Franco-Swiss cement company LafargeHolcim, where the contractors were going to work, said he was informed of the attack by MacMahon which is working with the security agencies to resolve the situation.
Kidnappings for ransom are a common occurrence in south-east Nigeria, an oil mining area where many foreign companies are operating. It is however rare for expatriates to be taken hostage.