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 6:32 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
ISIS has slaughtered hundreds. Now nearly 40 nations have agreed to take the fight to the militants. But what can they do?
updated 5:26 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
updated 4:51 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
North Korea calls its human rights a "superior system."
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
In Wenzhou, called the "Jerusalem of China," authorities have demolished churches.
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
updated 11:38 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Treated with all due respect, volcanoes can offer some stunning vistas. Just don't fall in.
updated 1:22 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
The blogger, the hacker, the PM... and Kim Dotcom? New Zealand's election campaign erupts in scandal.
updated 10:36 PM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
In the aftermath of that deadly day, the enemy quickly became clear. But now a plurality of extremist threats tests global resolve.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Soviets put stray dogs into orbit. Then, next thing you know...
updated 5:28 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will rule whether Oscar Pistorius is a murderer.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT