Nigerian Security Forces Begin Manhunt for Kidnappers

Nigerian security forces have begun a manhunt for the kidnappers of the three Shell oil workers that are begin held for ransom. The whereabouts of the three employees of Willbros, a Shell subcontractor, remain unknown, but security forces believed the three were still alive.

The German and two Filipinos were kidnapped on June 23 by a gang of 45 pirates from a tugboat, Sea Buck Cygnet II, off the Forcados oil terminal. Shell has not identified the captives but said their families had been informed.

"The men are still held hostage," Lt. Colonel Gar Dogo, commander of the 7th Amphibious Battalion in the oil hub of Warri said. "We are pursuing them (the pirates) but because the villages are scattered over a wide area it's not easy."

It is believed that the workers are being held in Ogodobiri village in Bomadi local government area of Delta state, just north of Forcados, according to ethnic-Ijaw community sources. Multinational companies operating in the area have increased security around their offshore facilities in an effort to avert new attacks by local gangs in reaction to any military crackdown.

Shell had ruled out any negotiations and said the pirates did not appear to be from local communities who frequently resort to hostage taking to back their demands for cash and amenities such as roads, housing and schools from oil companies.