MONTREAL — Algerian security forces are negotiating with armed gunmen who kidnapped a local SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) engineer on his way to work, the Canadian engineering giant said Wednesday.
The employee was kidnapped Sunday morning by five armed insurgents and whisked away by a car in Djebahia, about 150 kilometres southeast of the capital, Algiers.
SNC spokeswoman Leslie Quinton said the company can’t comment on specific efforts to secure the employee’s release.
“The local authorities are in charge of having him released, which includes negotiating, but we are not aware of what specific measures are being taken because they are overseeing the process,” she said in an email.
Quinton added the company obviously hoped that the employee is “returned safely home as soon as possible.”
The engineer was working on a project to build a water treatment plant in the region.
SNC-Lavalin has operated in the North African country for more than 40 years, but recently has been forced to beef up security following attacks that killed several of its employees.
The company said it intends to continue working in Algeria and that the project is nearing completion.
“We have taken all measures necessary to ensure the safety of our other employees in the region,” Quinton added.
Its operations have twice been targeted by militants, killing 19 people in recent years.
Algerian security officials say private security guards working for SNC were ambushed east of the Algerian capital last October, killing seven and injuring two.
And a suicide bomber in August 2008 killed 12 Algerians on a bus heading to work at the Koudiat Acerdoune water treatment plant that the company was building.
SNC-Lavalin has a large presence in Algeria, helping the oil-rich country build water, power and infrastructure facilities.
It is one of the world’s largest engineering and construction companies with offices in more than 35 countries and operations in about 100 countries.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, SNC’s shares were down seven cents at $53.04 in morning trading Wednesday.