LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — More than 30 assailants stormed a house in northern Nigeria, killing two people and kidnapping a French engineer, in the latest abduction to hit the West African nation, officials said Thursday.
The engineer, a contractor for French renewable energy firm Vergnet SA, appeared to have been the target, Katsina state police chief Abdullahi Magaji said. A neighbor and a security guard were killed in the attack on the Frenchman’s home Wednesday night in the town of Rimi, 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the city of Katsina, he said.
The assailants also attacked a nearby police station as they drove off with the hostage, but no one there was hurt, Magaji added. There had been no request for ransom or any other communication from the kidnappers as of Thursday evening, he said.
French President Francois Hollande, speaking to reporters during a state visit in Algeria, said French authorities would do all they could to free the hostage. Vergnet issued a statement that said the company “immediately took extra security measures for all its employees abroad” and that it is in touch with French authorities.
The attack comes amid a spate of ransom kidnappings, which usually last for a few days, in Africa’s most populous nation. But most have occurred in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, a kidnapping hotspot.
Four South Koreans and a Nigerian working for Korea-based Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. were abducted Monday from a construction site in Bayelsa state, in the delta region. The 83-year-old mother of Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was kidnapped earlier this month and held for five days in close-by Delta state.
This latest kidnapping, however, occurred in the Nigeria’s Sahelian north, which has only recently started to see abductions. The kidnappings in the area also have lasted longer and been linked to radical Islamist groups rather than criminal gangs.
A Briton and an Italian kidnapped in Nigeria were abducted in May last year and executed about 10 months later as a commando rescue operation closed in on them. Nigerian authorities blamed a splinter group of the radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, but a sect spokesman denied the group’s involvement. In a video released while the hostages were still alive, the kidnappers claimed that they were members of al-Qaida. Western military officials and diplomats have said Boko Haram has loose ties to al-Qaida.
The kidnappers had stormed Chris McManus’ apartment, kidnapping him alongside Franco Lamolinara, about 350 miles (560 kilometers) from where Wednesday’s kidnapping occurred.
Al-Qaida has been linked to other kidnappings of foreigners in the area, especially ones targeting French nationals, who have become a high value target in Africa’s Sahel region.
France has led efforts to launch a military intervention in northern Mali, where a mix of al-Qaida linked rebels now control an area the size of France or Texas, an enormous triangle of land that includes borders with Mauritania, Algeria and Niger. Militants there have indicated that they plan to use the French hostages they are currently holding as human shields.
They include a 61-year-old French tourist who was taken in Mali a month ago, as well as several employees and contractors of French nuclear giant Areva SA, seized over two years ago in Niger, and currently being held in northern Mali.
Analysts have said there is growing evidence of cooperation between Boko Haram and the militants in northern Mali, who include Nigerian citizens among their ranks.
Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten in Paris, Rukmini Callimachi in Dakar contributed to this report.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11