Nigeria security forces kill 13 in raid on kidnappers

YENAGOA, Nigeria Sat Nov 3, 2012 6:12pm GMT

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YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian security forces have killed 13 members of a gang suspected of abducting a Turkish man in a dawn raid on their hideout in oil-producing Rivers state, police said on Saturday.

A 20 million naira ($127,600) ransom was paid for the release of Bayram Karakus, who worked for the Rivigo Construction company, Rivers police spokesman Ben Ugwuegbulam told Reuters.

He gave no details of what happened to the Turkish man.

"A combined team of operatives ... stormed the militant camp of a notorious gang also responsible for kidnapping, armed robbery, killing of policemen and civilians in the recent past," Ugwuegbulam said.

"In the ensuing gun battle six of the hoodlums were fatally wounded ... seven of the wounded died on the way to hospital."

Ugwuegbulam said the police recovered 98,900 naira, the bags used to deliver the ransom, six AK 47 rifles and ammunition in the raid on Friday.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in the coastal Niger Delta region, which is home to Africa's largest oil industry. The majority of people abducted are Nigerians but foreign oil and construction workers are also targets.

Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the world for kidnapping, a major criminal enterprise worth millions of dollars a year. Abductions are most common in the oil-region and other southern states, including the commercial-hub Lagos.

Piracy off the coast is also on the increase.

Pirates released seven sailors last week - six Russians and an Estonian - seized after an attack on a ship operated by French firm Bourbon SA off the coast of Nigeria.

(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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