Gunmen seize 3 foreigners from Nigerian oilfield

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LAGOS, Oct 21 (Reuters) Gunmen in speedboats kidnapped three foreign workers from an offshore oilfield in Nigeria which was preparing to restart after being closed for 20 months due to an earlier attack, security sources said today.

The three men, thought to be a Croat, a Russian and an English speaker from the United States or Britain, were taken after a three-hour gunfight with troops from a support vessel at the EA field, operated by Royal Dutch Shell.

A Shell spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

''There was a long drawn out battle and three were taken from a support vessel,'' a security source at an oil company said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The abduction is a major setback to Shell's plans to resume production from the western Niger Delta after a series of militant attacks in February. 2006 forced the company to reduce output by 477,000 barrels per day.

Before this attack the EA field, which pumped 115,000 barrels per day before it was shut, had been expected to resume operations by the middle of 2008.

REUTERS SYU RK1326

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