Eight foreigners including a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese workers were yesterday kidnapped at a Lebanese Construction Company, Setraco in Jama’are, Bauchi State. Security sources said those abducted also include two women. It was the worst case of foreigners being kidnapped in the Northern region since an insurgency by Islamist militants intensified nearly two years ago.
No one took responsibility for the raid, but Al-Qaeda-aligned group Ansaru, which rose to prominence only in recent months, claimed the kidnap in December of a French national who is still missing. Bauchi State Police Commissioner, Mohammed Ladan, said the gunmen attacked a police station and a prison overnight before storming the construction firm’s compound in Jama’are township.
“We repelled the attack on the police station and the security men at the prison yard also repelled the attack, but they burnt two vehicles in Jama’are police station,” Ladan said. “They then attacked Setraco Construction Company, killed a local security guard and they succeeded in kidnapping people.” The Italian and Greek foreign ministries confirmed that one of their nationals was taken in the raid. A spokesman for the British Embassy in Abuja said it was investigating.
Ansaru’s full name is Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan, which roughly translates as “Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa,” claimed responsibility for a dawn raid on a major police station in the Nigerian capital last year, where it said hundreds of prisoners were released. Last month, it attacked a convoy of Nigerian troops en route to deployment in Mali.
The group said the abduction of the Frenchman last year was motivated by Paris’ ban of the full-face veil and its military intervention against Islamist insurgents in Mali.. Britain last November put Ansaru on its official “terrorist group” list, saying it was aligned with Al-Qaeda and was behind the kidnap of a British and an Italian killed last year during a failed rescue attempt.
Ansaru is thought to have loose ties to Boko Haram, which has killed hundreds during a three-year-long insurgency focused mostly on Nigerian security forces, religious targets and politicians, rather than foreigners.