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Gunmen Attack on Nigerian Oil Vessels

Two oil vessels were attacked by unidentified gunmen on Saturday in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta area

Two oil vessels were attacked by unidentified gunmen on Saturday in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta area. An oil ship belonging to Canada's Addax Petroleum was also briefly hijacked.

A group of oil workers including seven French citizens and ten Nigerians were seized, but soon regained freedom unharmed according to Lagos-based Channels TV reports.

A French embassy spokesman in Nigeria had confirmed the safety of French oil workers to local media, but gave no further details on the incident.

According to the report, suspected pirates in the delta also attacked a second oil vessel, which is believed to be under contract with French oil major Total, but the ship managed to escape with only bullet holes to the hull.

In a third incident, the reported quoted a security source as saying that an unidentified vessel came under attack with pirates, attacking via speedboats, taking cellular phones, money and other valuables from the passengers on board.

According to local media reports, criminal activities including kidnapping for ransom and pirates are common in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region.

Since the beginning of 2006, more than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in the region, most of whom being oil workers.

The insecurity since then has crippled Nigeria's oil production, suffering from a production shut-in of 25 percent compared with its peak output at 2.6 million barrel per day.

Author: Jo Amey