Armed men have kidnapped four oil workers in Nigeria's southern oil-rich Niger Delta region, military sources say. The area’s military spokesman, Isa Ado, said on Wednesday that those taken hostage were employees of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NOAC), a subsidiary of the Italian energy giant, ENI. The oil workers were travelling without a security escort in the Southern Ijaw area of Nigeria's Bayelsa State when they were abducted by gunmen in a speedboat on Tuesday, the spokesman added.
"We have started a rescue mission to secure their release and also bring the captors to book," he further noted. The incident comes ahead of Nigeria’s February 14 presidential election, which will see a contest between incumbent Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling People's Democratic Party and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress. Nigeria has witnessed a string of kidnappings, deadly shooting attacks and bombings by Boko Haram Takfiri militants since the beginning of their operations in 2009. Violence in Nigeria has left over 13,000 people dead and 1.5 million displaced over the past years.