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Unidentified gunmen dressed in Nigerian military uniforms abducted four foreign nationals in the oil-rich Niger River delta after killing their police guard, a police spokeswoman said.

The men, who included three Syrians and a Lebanese, were seized at Etche, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Port Harcourt, the hub of the oil industry, at about 9 a.m. local time, Rita Abbey said in a phone interview today from the city.

“The hoodlums shot dead a police sergeant attached to the expatriates and took his gun away,” she said. “No ransom demand has been made and no group has claimed responsibility.”

Rebel groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta have kidnapped oil workers and sabotaged oil facilities in the region since 2006, to win a greater allocation of oil wealth for their people. The attacks have cut Nigeria’s oil exports, its biggest foreign- revenue earner, by more than 20 percent and made operators such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Total SA, Chevron Corp. and Eni SpA scale back investments.

A police investigation into the abductions is continuing, Abbey said. BW

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