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Seven foreigners abducted in northern Nigeria

Four Lebanese workers, a Briton, an Italian, and a Greek seized in Bauchi State, police say.
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2013 23:21

Gunmen in Nigeria have kidnapped seven foreigners and killed a security guard when they stormed the compound of Lebanese construction company Setraco in the northern Bauchi State, authorities say.

Among those abducted were four Lebanese workers, a Briton, an Italian, and a Greek, police officials said on Sunday.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital, Abuja, said security forces were on high alert to locate the hostages after they were kidnapped in Jama'are town.

"The police are not discussing the mode of operation to free these hostages, but they say ransom, or [negotiations] with terrorists is out of the question," said Idris, adding that "nobody has taken responsibility" for the kidnappings.

Foreigners, frequently abducted by armed groups and criminal gangs for ransom in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, have become increasingly targeted in the country's north as the violence has grown.

Bauchi Police Chief Mohammed Ladan said gunmen attacked a police station and a prison overnight before storming the construction firm's compound.

"We repelled the attack on police station and the security men at the prison yard also repelled the attack, but [the attackers] burnt two vehicles in Jama'are police station," Ladan said.

Setraco Nigeria, a construction and civil engineering company with a road project in the region, is a subsidiary of Lebanese-owned Setraco International Holding group.

Previous kidnappings

In December, al-Qaeda-aligned group Ansaru claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a French national who remains missing.

Meanwhile, in May, gunmen in Kaduna state shot and killed a Lebanese and a Nigerian construction worker, while kidnapping another Lebanese employee.

Later that month, kidnappers shot a German hostage dead during a rescue operation.

Gunmen who authorities say have links to the armed group Boko Haram, kidnapped an Italian and a British man last year in northern Kebbi State who were later killed during a rescue operation by Nigerian soldiers backed up by British special forces. The group later denied taking part in that abduction.

Boko Haram, blamed for hundreds of deaths in northern Nigeria since 2009, has claimed several attacks on police stations as part of a battle it says is aimed at creating an Islamic state in the mostly Muslim north.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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