The four Australian miners who were attacked by at least 30 militants near Calabar and were kidnapped have been identified on Friday.
Seven mining workers went missing from the region. Out of them, four were Australians while others were a New Zealander, a South African and a Nigerian. Australians Peter Zoutenbier, Jack Couranz and Mark Gabbedy went missing after the attack while Tim Croot managed to escape the abduction. New Zealander Jamal Khan, Nigerian Austin Adise and South African Wayne Smith were also among those kidnapped by the gunmen during a horrifying ambush. The shooters killed the victims’ driver.
According to The West Australian, Perth-based Croot had army reserve training when the incident occurred. Reports have stated that he called his mother on Wednesday night and told he was fine and she shouldn’t worry. The four-car convoy was set as the group was travelling in the southeast of Nigeria, just outside the Calabar city in the district of Akpabuyo. An eye-witness reported that he saw the victims were bundled and were being transported on a boat.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed that three citizens of the nation have been kidnapped.
“We don’t know at this stage the identity of the kidnappers. The families have been notified of course,” he said. “In many respects, the less Julie and I say about this the better from the point of view recovering the kidnapped people. It is a very serious kidnapping, a very serious criminal assault – one person was killed as you know and seven people were kidnapped.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said that the government has already started working on finding details of the abduction.
“The Australian Government is in close contact with the Nigerian Government, which is taking the matter extremely seriously,” she said.
The Australian miners worked for a Perth-based engineering company Macmahon. The ABC stated that the company claimed that it has suspended trading. It also released a statement where it confirmed the death of their employees.
“The employees who were abducted in the incident include three Australians, two Nigerians, a New Zealander and a South African,” the statement read. “We are working to ensure the safe return of all the men involved and are in communication with their families. Macmahon is providing support to the en’s families and we ask the media to respect their privacy at this time.”
“Counseling has also been made available for all Macmahon employees and their families.”