Nigerian police and navy patrol boats intensified efforts Thursday to find a group of construction workers including three Australians, two Nigerians, a New Zealander and a South African kidnapped in an ambush that killed their driver, police said.

They were seized Wednesday by gunmen who held up their convoy that was under a police escort near Calabar, the capital of southeastern Cross River state, said police Commissioner Jimoh Ozi-Obeh.

Another Australian escaped, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

“A very intense search is on, with more patrol and surveillance teams dispatched to the rescue,” Ozi-Obeh told The Associated Press.

Nigerian newspapers quoted witnesses saying the hostages were forced onto a boat, meaning they could be anywhere in a maze of estuaries and mangrove swamps that dominate the state’s geography.

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