Monday, February 18, 2013

Nigerian Ansaru Claims Responsibility for Kidnapping Seven Foreigners

New militant group Ansaru: we kidnapped 7 foreigners

Posted by: Austine Tsenzunghul, Bauchi and Augustine Ehikioya, Abuja on February 19, 2013
Nigerian Nation

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday ordered security agents to rescue the seven foreigners abducted by gunmen in Bauchi State on Saturday.

Islamist group Ansaru claimed responsibility for the abduction, saying it has custody of the Briton, the Italian, the Greek and four Lebanese kidnapped at gunpoint from their workplace in Jama’are, Bauchi State.

A Nigerian security guard – Mr. John Amalu – was killed by the gunmen.

All the victims are employees of construction firm SETRACO, working on the Bauchi State segment of the Kano-Maiduguri Expressway.

In a statement by his spokesman Dr. Reuben Abati, the President commiserated with the family of the guard who was reportedly killed and assured “the kidnapped foreign workers as well as the governments of their countries that the Federal Government and its security agencies are doing everything possible to find their abductors and ensure the safe release of all those they abducted”.

“The President condemns the kidnapping of the workers and reaffirms the Federal Government’s total commitment to stamping out all forms of terrorism and criminal abduction in the country.

“He urges all Nigerians and foreigners in the country to continue to go about their normal business in the full assurance that the government and national security agencies are working tirelessly to curb threats to security in all parts of the country,” Abati said.

The police in Bauchi said they had intensified a manhunt for the militants.

Bauchi State Police Commissioner Mohammed Ladan said “as soon as security agencies conclude their investigation, we will let the world know”.

“There is no contact with the abductors yet but the search continues.”

Already, all the expatriates working with the firm have been evacuated and work on the road suspended.

A note allegedly written and posted on Twitter by one Abu Usamatal Ansary yesterday said: “Based on the transgression and atrocities done to the religion of Allah SWT by European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali etc. By Allah’s grace Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladissudan has the custody of seven persons, which include Lebanese and their European counterparts working with Setraco in Nigeria on 8th of Rabiul Thani,1434 equivalent to 7 February 2013’’.

The statement added: “It is stressed that any attempt or act contrary to our condition by the European Nations or by the Nigeria Government will lead to the happenings as it was in the previous attempt.’’

The statement was not signed, but the name of Abu Usamatal Ansary was at the bottom as the writer.

The abductors allegedly used explosives to blast their way into a housing compound in a hail of gunfire.

It was the worst case of foreigners being kidnapped since an insurgency by Islamist militants intensified two years ago.

“By Allah’s grace (we) have the custody of seven persons, which include Lebanese and their European counterparts working with Setraco,” read the statement from Ansaru, a group that has kidnapped other foreigners in Nigeria in the past.

The kidnapping was “based on the transgression and atrocities done to the religion of Allah by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali”, the statement added.

In the Jama’are housing compound walls were strewn with bullet holes and empty cartridges lay on the floor as police searched the deserted Setraco site on Monday, witnesses said. The remaining foreign workers abandoned their homes and fled to safer areas in Nigeria.

Islamist fighters first attacked a police station and a prison, burning vehicles to immobilise security officials, before striking the compound in a coordinated attack, the Setraco compound security manager said.

“Some of them attacked the camp from the north side, while others from the south. They blew holes in the security gates using explosives,” Musa Alhamdu told Reuters.

“There was pandemonium after the gunmen opened fire on the four policemen attached to the camp, the policemen ran away as they were overpowered,” Alhamdu added.

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