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Thursday, December 07, 2006

One killed, four kidnapped at Italian oil facility in Nigeria

LAGOS (AFP) - At least one person has been killed and four foreigners were kidnapped during an attack by armed assailants against an oil installation belonging to Italian company Agip in southern Nigeria.

"One boy was killed by a stray bullet", he said, adding that he could not comment on the victim's identity or nationality, or say whether he worked on the Agip installation or was one of the assaillants.

"Three Italians and one Lebanese were taken hostage", a Nigerian officer said.

A spokesman for ENI, Agip's Italian parent company, said the attack on an oil pumping station occurred at around 5:00 am at the Brass oilfield in Bayelsa state in the restive Niger Delta region.

The Nigerian officer also said at least one person, "Agip's operations superintendent" was wounded in the attack, but was again unable to comment on the man's nationality.

An official at the foreign ministry crisis cell confirmed one person, who was "not Italian", had been injured. "One person was wounded in the attack," Elisabetta Belloni told the Sky TG 24 television news network.

ENI said it had not received any claim of responsibility.

Lebanese diplomats in Lagos were not able to immediately confirm a national was among those kidnapped.

Since January, separatists and militant groups seeking a larger share of oil wealth for the Niger delta's 14-million strong ethnic Ijaw community have been blamed for a spate of violent attacks on multinational oil firms and their personnel.

On November 22, a British employee of ENI was killed during an assault by Nigerian security forces attempting to rescue him and six other hostages being held by an armed group.
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