Seven workers, including three Australians, a South African, a New Zealander and two Nigerians, have been released after being kidnapped by gunmen in Nigeria.
The men, five of whom were injured, were working at a quarrying site for Australia’s Macmahon Holdings, which supplies materials for the cement-maker, UniCem, near Calabar in Nigeria.
Two are seriously injured and all are currently receiving medical attention, Macmahon Holdings announced yesterday. The men had been held for five days.
They were seized last week on Wednesday, 22 June by gunmen who held up their convoy that was under a police escort near Calabar, the capital of southeastern Cross River state, according to reports. Their Nigerian driver was shot dead.
At a press conference in Perth today the company refused to answer questions about whether a ransom was paid to secure the men’s release, local media reported.
In a statement, Macmahon CEO, Sy van Dyk commended the men for the courage they displayed throughout the ordeal.
"Our men have been through a traumatic experience, and we have mobilised medical and other support teams in Nigeria to provide immediate support," he said.
He added: "Our team has worked around the clock in locations around the world to bring them home and I am so proud of the dedicated and professional work they have done.
"While we are relieved to be able to reunite the seven men with their loved ones, we are deeply saddened by the loss of the local driver Matthew Odok, who was fatally injured during the initial incident."
Mr van Dyk praised the efforts of the Nigerian authorities which have worked closely with the company throughout the incident.
Calabar is located in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta region, which has a history of armed insurgency.
Image: Macmahon Holdings’ Calabar quarrying site (Macmahon Holdings)