Kidnapped Foreign Nationals, Others Rescued in Cross River

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Seven persons, including foreign nationals, who were kidnapped last Wednesday by gunmen suspected to be militants in Akansoko, Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Cross River State, have been rescued, the police have announced.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Jimoh Ozi-Obeh, who made the announcement, said the seven persons who are from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Nigeria were rescued by the police yesterday morning.

Ozi-Obeh said no ransom was paid to the kidnappers before the successful rescue of the workers who are staff of Australian mining company, MacMahon, a contracting firm working for cement manufacturing company, LafargeHolcim, in Mfamosing, Akampka Local Government Area of the state. The commissioner disclosed in a telephone conference that the workers were rescued unhurt, and that they were in very stable condition.

However, he declined to reveal any detail on how and where the workers were rescued, attributing the success recorded in freeing the captives to a combined efforts between the police and other security operatives with support from the state government. The state Security Adviser, Mr. Jude Ngaji, said the freed workers were released somewhere in Akpabuyo and immediately taken into protective custody in an undisclosed location by security agents.

Ngaji said the worker were three from Australia, one each from New Zealand and South Africa and two from Nigeria. He corroborated the police commissioner statement, saying no ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

“I can tell you that they have regained their freedom. They are happy, strong and in high spirit. The Australian ambassador is happy and commended the state for the manner it handled the matter.

“This development is totally strange to Cross Riverians and never will it happen again. Cross River still remains the safest state to live in.

“The state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, is happy with the way security agencies rose to the occasion to ensure their safe release. We also thank the people of the state for their cooperation,” Ngaji said.

During the encounter leading to the kidnapping of the workers last Wednesday, their assailants, about 30 gunmen suspected to be militants operating in the state, shot and killed a Nigerian who was driving the bus conveying the workers to the cement factory.