There has been another spate of hostage taking in Nigeria. At least 16 foreign workers were kidnapped early today in two separate incidents in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta region.

Eight Filipinos, three South Koreans and a Nigerian employee were abducted from Afam power station, about 20 miles northeast of Port Harcourt.

At least five other foreign workers have also been abducted in the south from an Italian-operated offshore oil vessel. The second abduction is reported to have taken place on an offshore oil production platform operated by Agip Eni in Bayelsa State.

Yesterday, US oil giant Chevron shut down 15 000 barrels per day of oil production in its facility in southern Nigeria following an attack on Tuesday by MEND, in which six foreign oil workers were kidnapped – four Italians, an American and a Croatian. One Nigerian navy officer was killed in the attack.

Mend said it would release the hostages unconditionally on May 30, adding that the attack was meant to embarrass the government of outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo, who steps down on May 29. “We promised to give the present Nigerian administration a shameful send-off. This attack is one in a series intended to embarrass the regime,” said Mend.

Obasanjo may be leaving, but the violence remains.