An Islamist group in Nigeria claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of seven foreigners at a construction site in the northern state of Bauchi.
Jamaatu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladissudan, or “Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in the Land of the Blacks,” said in an e-mailed statement it carried out the attack in response to “the transgressions and atrocities done to the religion of Allah” by European nations in countries such as Mali and Afghanistan.
A security guard was killed and three Lebanese, including a woman, were seized along with a Filipino, a Greek, an Italian and a U.K. national in a Feb. 16 attack on a residential compound of construction company Setraco Nigeria Ltd. in Jama’are, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Bauchi state capital, police spokesman Hassan Mohammed said.
The government of Africa’s top oil producer has been battling Boko Haram, another militant Islamist group, which has carried out gun and bomb attacks in the north and killed hundreds of people since 2009. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people, is roughly split between the largely Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.
President Goodluck Jonathan ordered security forces to “take all necessary action to locate and rescue” the hostages, his spokesman, Reuben Abati, said today in an e-mailed statement. Nigerian forces are working to ensure the “safe release of all those abducted.”
Ansaru, as the group is known, also claimed responsibility for the Dec. 20 kidnapping of French engineer Francis Colump from his home in the northern Nigerian city of Katsina.
A British citizen and an Italian seized last year from the northwestern town of Birnin Kebbi were killed in the city of Sokoto in March by their captors during a failed rescue attempt by U.K. and Nigerian forces. While Nigerian authorities accused Boko Haram of the abduction, the group denied any involvement.
“Any attempt or act contrary to our condition by the European nations or by the Nigerian government will lead to the happenings as it was in the previous attempt,” the Ansaru said in today’s statement.
A German engineer kidnapped in the northern city of Kano in January last year was killed by his captors on May 30 when security forces made an attempt to rescue him.
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