Kidnapped New Zealander in Nigeria released

  • 27/06/2016

A New Zealander and three Australians kidnapped in a deadly attack in Nigeria are now safe but there are conflicting reports on how they were freed.

The men, who work for Perth-based mining company Macmahon Holdings, were seized last week on the outskirts of the southern city of Calabar when their Nigerian driver was shot dead.

They were among seven men released by kidnappers, the company said in a statement late on Sunday night.

However, Nigerian police say were responsible for the men's freedom.

"The police stormed the location where they were being held and rescued them," police spokeswoman Irene Itohan said.

All kidnappers were able to escape during the siege, she said.

Macmahon said five of the men were injured, two seriously, and were receiving medical attention.

It is not clear whether the New Zealander, named by Nigerian media as Jamal Khan, was among the injured.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the Kiwi was among the seven released. His family had been informed but the ministry was saying little more.

Macmahon chief executive Sy van Dyk praised the men for their courage.

"Our men have been through a traumatic experience," he said.

"I also thank the men's families for working so closely with the company during what has been an extremely difficult time for them as well. They too have endured an incredibly stressful experience."

A Nigerian driver was shot dead in the attack, while the kidnapped men also included a South African and two Nigerians.

Another Australian managed to flee the attackers.

Macmahon Holdings mines material for processing at Lafarge Africa's UniCems cement plant at Mfamosing, in Nigeria's southeast.

The company didn't say if a ransom was paid for the men's release.

Both the Australian and New Zealand governments had earlier said they wouldn't pay any ransom money.

Mr van Dyk praised the efforts of Nigerian, Australian, New Zealand and South African authorities and the company's security advisors.

"This has been an incredible team effort and our highest priority now is to finish the job by continuing to work together to get our people back safely to their families and homes," he said.