French def. min. says kidnapping of 3 French employees from ship off Nigeria looks like piracy

PARIS (AP) — France's defense minister says the kidnapping of three French nationals from a ship off Nigeria's coast appears to be a "classic act of piracy."

Herve Morin says French officials are worried, and that the group believed to be behind the abduction has shown "absolute determination" and is considered violent.

Speaking on France-24 television Thursday, he underscored that the Gulf of Guinea is frequented by pirates. That is where the French-flagged vessel Bourbon Alexandre was working in an offshore oil field when attackers armed with Kalashnikov rifles abducted the three Wednesday.

An al-Qaida affiliate has claimed responsibility for a separate kidnapping of five French citizens in the neighboring country of Niger.