Lagos (dpa) - A group of at least six employees of an Australian mining company were kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Nigeria's volatile Niger Delta, officials said Thursday.
The abducted include three Australians, one New Zealander, one South African and at least one Nigerian, Australian and Nigerian officials said. The worked for Perth-based Macmahon Holdings.
"We are working to rescue the foreigners and apprehend the kidnappers," said Irene Itohan, a police spokeswoman in Calabar, the southern Nigerian city near where the attack took place Wednesday.
The workers' local driver was killed during the assault, which took place between about 50 kilometres south of Calabar, Ithohan added.
"The workers and their driver were about to get to their office when a vehicle with gunmen forced the vehicle to a stop," local youth leader Samuel Bassey told dpa after speaking to several witnesses.
"They shot the driver dead, pushed him out of the vehicle, while one of them took control of the steering wheel and drove off with the expatriates," he said.
South African foreign affairs spokesman Nelson Kgwete said on Twitter there had been no communication with the kidnappers and their demands were unknown.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government was in close contact with the Nigerian government and that she had spoken with the heads at Macmahon and Australia's ambassador in Nigeria.
"We are treating this extremely seriously as, I understand, is the Nigerian government, and I will continue to remain in contact with our ambassador and at the appropriate levels within the Nigerian government," she said.