Three Australians among seven workers abducted in Nigeria

Macmahon has confirmed the kidnapping of seven employees, including three Australians, at its operations in Nigeria, with the fatal shooting of a local employee.

Up to 30 armed militants attacked a convoy of vehicles near Calabar, in the nation’s south on Wednesday, killing the driver of one vehicle and abducting the workers which also included two Nigerians, a New Zealander, and a South African.

The three Australians captured were Pete Zoutenbier, Mark Gabbedy, Pete Zoutenbier, and Jack Couranz, with Tim Croot from Perth managing to escape the ambush, hiding under a vehicle and unable to be seen by the attackers, the West Australian reports.

The kidnappers took the hostages to a boat hidden under a bridge with a witness saying they “took the victims away through the river”.

It is believed the fleet of mining vehicles was protected by security and armed police when it was attacked.

No ransom demands have been made.

PM Malcom Turnbull said the kidnappers were not yet identified, adding, “In many respects the less (Foreign Minister) Julie (Bishop) and I say about this the better from the point of re-covering the kidnapped people.”

Macmahon entered a contract with the United Cement Company of Nigeria (UniCem) for quarrying operations at the company’s cement operations near Calabar.

Macmahon had a trading halt when news broke of the kidnapping.

The company said, “We are working to ensure the safe return of all the men involved and are in communication with their families.”

They are also providing support to the men’s families as well as counselling to all Macmahon staff and families.

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