October 27, 2014 / 1:03 PM / 4 years ago

Gunmen kill German citizen, kidnap another in southwest Nigeria

LAGOS (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked the vehicles of a German worker and sub-contractor for a construction company in southwest Nigeria’s Ogun state, shooting one dead and kidnapping the other, a senior security source said on Monday.

The attack on the cars carrying the men, who were traveling without their security escorts, occurred on Friday. They were heading to the Ogbere quarry west of Lagos in Ogun state, where they worked with Julius Berger Nigeria.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and leading energy producer, is one of the world’s worst countries for kidnapping, mostly in the oil-producing states to the south.

Pirates in the Niger Delta have killed three policemen and abducted at least nine people since last Thursday, security officials said. Kidnappings are expected to increase before elections next February since some politicians fund campaigns with money acquired through criminal networks.

Police in Ogun state were not immediately available for comment. Julius Berger confirmed the incident but did not mention the nationality of the victims.

“One expatriate, a sub-contractor to Julius Berger, was shot and has subsequently died; the other expatriate, a staff of Julius Berger, has been abducted,” the company said in an emailed statement.

According to the security source, the gunmen first stopped one car. When the driver of the other car saw what had happened, he tried to turn around but the attackers also opened fire on that vehicle, killing the German citizen.

“Julius Berger is currently working in close cooperation with the Nigerian authorities to make certain the safe and prompt release of the person abducted ... (and) believes this to be an isolated criminal incident.”

A spokesman at Germany’s foreign ministry said the ministry was working on the case but declined to give further details.

Kidnapping in Nigeria is mostly located in the prosperous south and nets millions of dollars for the abductors. Fighting it is hampered by the fact that security forces are sometimes complicit.

In the largely Muslim north, kidnappings tend to be more political and linked to Islamist militant groups like Boko Haram.

The group kidnapped more than 200 school girls in April and are currently in talks with Nigeria’s government in neighboring Chad for their release, although kidnappings of children have continued even while they talk.

Additional reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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