Pirates attack French marine services ship off Nigeria, 3 employees taken hostage

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3 French employees kidnapped in ship off Nigeria

PARIS — Three French employees of marine services company Bourbon have been kidnapped in an attack on one of its ships in an oil field off Nigeria, the company said Wednesday.

Bourbon said in a statement on its website that no claim of responsibility has been made for the assault on the ship, the Bourbon Alexandre, which occurred Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

Bourbon said several speedboats were involved in the assault on the ship. Bourbon spokeswoman Christa Roqueblave said the attackers kidnapped three French employees, then sped away.

The company said the 13 other crew members “remained aboard, and no injuries were reported.” It said the families of the hostages have been contacted.

The French-flagged vessel was working in an offshore oil field operated by Addax Petroleum, a subsidiary of Chinese oil producer Sinopec Group.

Commodore David Nabaida, a Nigerian naval spokesman, told The Associated Press that he was aware of only one French citizen kidnapped during the attack. He confirmed the attack and said naval authorities are investigating. He declined further comment.

France’s Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the attack but had no further comment. On its site with recommendations for travelers, the ministry warned last month of an increase in the incidence of kidnappings of foreigners throughout Nigeria.

Africa’s most populous country remains a target-rich environment full of oil barges and oil company ships off of the delta, one of the U.S.’ top sources of crude oil. Cargo ships off the coast of the mega city of Lagos also fall under pirate attacks as they wait to unload their goods at the city’s busy and mismanaged ports.

Associated Press Writer Jon Gambrell in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report.

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