November 28, 2014 / 6:03 PM / 3 years ago

Three foreign workers kidnapped in Nigeria's delta region

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Three expatriate construction workers were kidnapped on Friday in Nigeria's Bayelsa state in the delta region, a security forces spokesman said.

The men, two Pakistani and one Indian, were seized at Emakalakala town in the Ogbia council area, a few miles from their construction base.

A witness who declined to be named for fear of reprisals said he saw sporadic shooting in the air before the men were pulled into a waiting speed boat.

"A very intense search is on to locate and rescue them," said Anka Mustapha, spokesman for the state's Joint Task Force, which includes the military and police.

Nigeria, Africa's largest economy and leading energy producer, is one of the world's worst countries for kidnapping, mostly in the prosperous south where abductors net millions of dollars.

Kidnappings are expected to increase before elections next February since some politicians fund campaigns with money acquired through criminal networks.

In late October, pirates abducted at least nine in a spate of attacks in the delta, while in the southwest of the country in Ogun state next to Lagos, gunmen killed a German construction worker and abducted another.

Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Julia Payne; Editing by Alison Williams

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