SA journalist kidnapped in Nigeria

Attackers kidnapped a South African sports journalist and two Nigerian colleagues on a bus in south-east Nigeria on Monday, their employer said.

The television crew from SuperSport were travelling near the airport in Owerri, capital of the south-eastern Imo state, when they came under attack, the channel’s general manager in Nigeria, Felix Awogu, told Agence France-Presse.

“The bus conveying the three, a production person, a cameraman and a sports commentator, was intercepted on Monday afternoon by the gunmen,” he said.

“The attackers ordered out more than 20 people inside the bus and took away the three and the bus,” Awogu said.

“We are keeping all our telephone lines open. We are hopeful that they [the kidnappers] will make contact with us to enable us to facilitate the freedom of the abducted men,” he added.

The crew were returning from covering a soccer match in the southern city of Enugu.

The police command in Imo state was unreachable by telephone, while the Nigerian national police said they had not been informed of the kidnapping.

Hoping for the best
A South African Foreign Ministry spokesperson said diplomats were in contact with Nigerian officials in hope of establishing contact with the kidnappers.

Kidnappings are relatively common in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, but have in recent months spread to the rest of the country.

Ransom demands range from $700 000 to $3-million, depending on the wealth and status of the hostage, although kidnappers will often accept lower sums.

More than 500 people were kidnapped in the first six months of 2009, of whom 10 were killed, according to official Nigerian statistics.

Most of those kidnapped were foreign oil workers.—AFP

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