Gunmen kidnap workers in Nigeria
Published 18/02/2013 | 05:11
A British building worker is believed to have been kidnapped along with six international colleagues by Islamic extremists in Nigeria.
Police in the West African country said seven foreigners working for Lebanese construction company Setraco were taken after the gang killed a guard at a site in Bauchi state in the north of the country late on Saturday.
Local government chairman Adamu Aliyu said those kidnapped were from Britain, Italy, Greece, the Philippines and Lebanon, and that one of the hostages was a woman.
The gunmen attacked a local prison, burning two police trucks, Bauchi state police said, before targeting a workers' camp for Setraco, which is building a road in the area. Bauchi police spokesman Hassan Muhammed said: "The gunmen came with explosives, which they used to break some areas."
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of reports that a number of foreign nationals, including a British national working for a construction company, were abducted on the evening of February 16 in Bauchi state. We are in contact with the Nigerian authorities."
Italian authorities said the safety of its hostage must be given "absolute priority", while Greece's foreign ministry said it had a plane on standby to send investigators to Nigeria.
No group has claimed responsibility for the abductions, radical Islamist group Boko Haram has been engaged in a guerilla campaign in the largely Muslim north of Nigeria over the past 18 months.
Last month around 40 hostages, six understood to have been Britons, were killed in an attack on the In Amenas gas field in Algeria.
Some 29 of the hostage-takers died, while three were captured by Algerian troops during a special forces mission to end the four-day stand-off which began on January 16.
In the wake of the crisis, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to put terrorism "right at the top of the agenda" for Britain's presidency of the G8 nations this year and vowed to show "iron resolve" in tackling Islamist threats.