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Gunmen attack vessels in Nigeria, kidnap Russians

Gunmen in speedboats attacked two oil services ships and kidnapped at least two Russians in separate incidents in Nigeria's Niger Delta, a security contractor working in the oil industry said on Saturday.

The Falcon Crest and Falcon Wings were attacked late on Friday off the coast of southern Nigeria's Akwa Ibom state near crude oil facilities operated by Canada's Addax Petroleum.

A Filipino captain on one of the vessels was killed, the security source said.

The attacks took place in the offshore area known as OML 123, referring to the 370 sq-km license area controlled by Addax. Six similar incidents occurred earlier this year, the most recent two weeks ago.

Addax and police officials were not immediately available for comment.

In a separate incident, gunmen in speedboats attacked a housing compound and kidnapped two Russians working for an aluminum company in the port town of Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom state early on Saturday, the security source said.

The two Russians worked for Nigeria's sole aluminum smelter plant ALSCON, which is owned by the world's largest aluminum producer Russia's United Company RUSAL.

Piracy is common in the Gulf of Guinea off Nigeria's Atlantic coast while attacks on oil industry facilities and kidnappings for ransom are frequent in the creeks of the Niger Delta, home to Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

Hundreds of foreigners have been seized in the region since early 2006, most of whom have been released unharmed.

The insecurity has cut Nigeria's oil output, which averages around 2 million barrels per day, by a fifth over the past three years. (Reuters)