Skip to main content

Boko Haram offshoot claims responsibility in Nigeria kidnapping

By CNN Staff
updated 12:28 PM EST, Mon February 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Militant group Ansaru claims responsibility for kidnapping of 7 foreign workers
  • NEW: Ansaru is believed to be an offshoot of Boko Haram, U.S. officials say
  • The victims are from Italy, Greece, Lebanon and possibly Britain
  • The foreigners work for a construction firm in northern Nigeria, police say

(CNN) -- A Nigerian militant group previously linked to the kidnapping of a French citizen claimed responsibility Monday for taking seven workers from a construction company's offices in northeastern Nigeria.

In an e-mail sent to reporters, Ansaru said it had kidnapped the seven workers Saturday because of "transgression and atrocities" against Islam in Afghanistan, Mali and other locations.

Those kidnapped included workers from Italy, Greece and Lebanon, those governments confirmed. Nigerian police said a Briton was also kidnapped; British authorities said they were aware of such reports and were making inquiries.

Opinion: Nigerians still waiting for their 'African Spring'

Gunmen took the workers from the offices of Setraco, a construction company in Jama'are, in Bauchi State, police said. The company is based in Abuja and is involved in many major road construction projects in northern Nigeria.

The gunmen first attacked a prison, burning two police trucks, public service broadcaster Voice of Nigeria reported, citing state police spokesman Hassan Muhammed.

They then killed a guard at the Setraco workers camp before kidnapping the workers, Muhammed told the broadcaster.

2012: Who are Boko Haram?

In December, the group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a French citizen near the border with Niger and for an attack on a prison in Abuja in November.

U.S. officials say Ansaru is an offshoot of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which Nigerian authorities say is behind a recent rash of killings and kidnappings in the country.

Boko Haram -- whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" -- has killed more than 2,800 people in an escalating campaign to impose strict Islamic law on largely Muslim northern Nigeria, according to Human Rights Watch.

Incidents have included the killings of three North Korean doctors in northern Yobe and the killings of nine people working for a government polio vaccination program in the northern city of Kano this month.

Nigeria launched a military crackdown on Boko Haram in January. Security forces have since captured one of the group's leaders and killed 17 suspected Boko Haram members.

Opinion: Why are Nigerians numb to slaughter?

In the past, the group attacked other Muslims who it said were on an immoral path. But it has increasingly targeted Christians with numerous attacks on churches, as well as striking police stations.

Boko Haram and other Muslim groups say the north has been starved of resources and marginalized by the Nigerian government. But the U.S. State Department has accused the group's leaders of having ties to the al Qaeda terrorist network and of hoping to drive a wedge between Nigeria's Christian and Muslim communities.

CNN's Vladimir Duthiers and journalist Hassan John contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT