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Published: Monday May 5, 2014 MYT 11:15:01 PM
Updated: Monday May 5, 2014 MYT 11:16:03 PM

Kidnappers snatch three Dutch nationals in Nigeria's Delta

YENAGOA, Nigeria,(Reuters) - Gunmen have snatched three Dutch nationals in Nigeria's volatile Niger Delta region, where armed kidnapping rings frequently operate, authorities said on Monday.

The Dutch nationals, two men and a woman, were abducted in Bayelsa state on Sunday, police spokesman Alex Akhighe said.

The kidnapping of expatriates by armed gangs seeking ransom money has been rife in the oil-producing Delta region, although it has tailed off since a 2009 amnesty was signed with militant groups there. Foreign firms have also improved their security.

Anka Mustapha, a spokesman for Bayelsa's Joint Task Force, which comprises military and police, said the three had been returning from an inspection of a newly-built health facility in the area.

Authorities have received intelligence that the three have since been moved to a forest near the Atlantic shore, he added.

Nigeria ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for kidnapping, a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise. Abductions are most rife in the oil states, but sometimes happen in Lagos and the southwest too.

(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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