Gunmen kill soldier, kidnap construction worker in Nigeria

Gunmen kidnap Lebanese construction worker and kill Nigerian soldier in shootout in Niger Delta

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Soldiers of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army on the back of a Military Toyota Land Cruiser in north-eastern Nigeria on March 25, 2016.

Gunmen on Tuesday kidnapped a Lebanese construction worker and killed a Nigerian soldier in a shootout in the southern Niger Delta, police said.

Since authorities issued an arrest warrant in January for a former militant leader on corruption charges, violence has been on the rise.

A police spokesman in Bayelsa, Butswat Asinim, said “one Lebanese, Ramzi Bau Hadi, aged 53 years, was kidnapped by the armed bandits”, while a resident said a second foreigner had also been kidnapped but Asinim did not immediately confirm the claim.

"It was a movie scene. The soldiers were shooting and the armed men were shooting," a driver told local news. "We later saw signs of blood everywhere," he said.

The Niger Delta, which provides most of Nigeria’s oil and gas income, has seen increasing conflict for weeks, as militant groups have demanded a greater share of the mineral wealth and an end to the oil pollution in the region.

Shell is one of the main contributors to pollution in the region, with its most recent oil spill catastrophe in 2014.

According to officials, last month a pipeline belonging to Italy’s ENI had been blown up, while three workers who had been repairing the pipe were killed.

A shell pipeline had been attacked in February, shutting down the Forcados export terminal which would produce 250,000 barrels a day.

Nigeria's President Muahmmadu Buhari took office last May and has since launched a crackdown on endemic graft and corruption with some high-profile arrests made over the faked arms contracts alleged to fight Boko Haram worth some $2 billion.

Last month he had asked the United States for repatriation of stolen Nigerian funds found within the American banking system. Secretary of State John Kerry promised the US will help return the stolen Nigerian assets stashed in US banks.

Buhari was elected a year ago, defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and has continued his fight against corruption ever since.

TRTWorld and agencies