Nine abducted in Niger delta
Group calls its attack on oil facility 'impromptu,' with more to come
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(CNN) -- A Nigerian group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of nine foreign workers during its attack on an oil facility Saturday.
Along with three Americans and a Briton, the group says it kidnapped two Thais, two Egyptians and a Filipino.
The U.S. Embassy in the capital Abuja and the British Foreign Office has confirmed the abductions of their citizens.
In an e-mail, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta called the kidnappings "impromptu and directly related to attacks on Ijaw communities in Delta state by the Nigerian military."
"This is not the promised strike," the group warned. "That will take place on a grander scale."
The group, which has claimed responsibility for pipeline attacks and other abductions, said it is fighting foreign oil interests for greater local control of oil wealth in the southern region.
The nine who were kidnapped have been working for Willbros, an oil services firm that works with international oil firms in Nigeria.
They were kidnapped on Willbros barge 318, the group said, calling the attack the group's first against facilities in the Delta state.
The group also claimed to have overpowered Nigerian soldiers in the attack.
"Without any doubt the Nigerian military cannot provide security for anyone in the Niger Delta. These individuals and facilities were well guarded by a large number of soldiers who resisted for an embarrassingly short period before escaping to ensure their personal safeties."
The ineffectiveness of the Nigerian military "is enough warning to oil companies and their workers that they stand no chance against any of our units in the event of an attack," the group said.
The group called its taking of hostages "deliberately compassionate ... in spite of our earlier pledge not to do so."
The group said it destroyed the Forcados crude loading platform, the Ekeremor-Yeye manifold and the NNPC Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline.
The group singled out Shell, saying its "employees will pay a terrible price for the use of Shell facilities in the attack of communities in the Niger Delta."
The Willbros Group, Inc. confirmed the incident and said it has a "crisis management team working closely with Shell.
It said in a statement that the barge "was subject to a hostage-taking incident while working" on a Shell Oil project in offshore waters near Forcados, Nigeria.
Willbros, headquartered in Panama City, Panama and with administrative offices in Houston, added it has not yet been contacted by the group which has claimed responsibility.
A spokeswoman for Shell International Limited in London confirmed an attack against a barge belonging to a Shell contractor in the Forcados Estuary and reports of kidnappings. But she declined to disclose identities of the hostages, citing concerns for their safety.
An external affairs manager for Shell, Don Boham, confirmed a fire at a Forcados terminal crude loading platform and an attack on a pipeline feeding into the terminal. He said both incidents were under investigation.
CNN's Eileen Hsieh and Christian Purefoy contributed to this report.
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