23rd June, 2016
The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the identity of kidnappers who abducted his countrymen in Akpabuyo, Cross River State of Nigeria, on Wednesday morning, is still unknown.
“We don’t know at this stage the identity of the kidnappers and families in Australia are notified, of course,” Turnbull said Thursday, interrupting campaigning for general elections next week.
“It is a very serious kidnapping, a very serious criminal assault,” he said.
Three Australians, a South African, a New Zealander and two Nigerians were abducted when about 30 gunmen attacked their convoy in the southeastern Nigerian district of Akpabuyo in Cross River state, which borders Cameroon.
The convoy was traveling under police escort when the attack unfolded, Nigerian police commissioner Jimoh Ozi-Obeh told Australian media, but the gunmen managed to escape. The kidnappers fled on a boat waiting on a beach near the bridge, local Nigerian media reported.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop didn’t say if the attack was thought to be terrorism-related and said Australian authorities were working with the Nigerian Government to confirm details.
“We are working very closely with the police, security and other agencies in Cross River,” she said.
MacMahon confirmed the incident after halting trade in its shares, saying those kidnapped included the five Westerners and two local staff, while a local employee had been killed.
“We are working to ensure the safe return of all the men involved and are in communication with their families,” the company said.
MacMahon has two projects in Nigeria, including the Calabar cement quarry in Mfamosing, near where the attack took place.
Violent attacks and kidnappings are common in Nigeria and the country is also the base of operations for Boko Haram, the West African affiliate of Islamic State.