GUNMEN on the prowl in the northern part of the country at the weekend kidnapped seven foreign workers and killed a guard.
The police authorities confirmed the development yesterday. Two Lebanese, an Italian and a Greek have been confirmed by their governments to be among those seized in the attack late Saturday on a Setraco construction site in the town of Jama’are in Bauchi State.
Bauchi, among the states in northern Nigeria where Boko Haram has carried out repeated attacks, saw two separate gun attacks earlier Saturday, but it was not clear if the group was behind the weekend violence.
“From the report we have received, the hostages are seven in all. They include four Lebanese, an Italian, a Briton and a Greek,” Bauchi State police spokesman Hassan Auyo said.
There has been no confirmation that a Briton was among those kidnapped or that the number of Lebanese was four.
“We are aware of reports and are making enquiries with the local authorities,” the Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted the Britain’s Foreign Office as saying.
The Lebanese foreign ministry said two of its citizens were among those seized, while officials in Athens and Rome confirmed their citizens were kidnapped.
Bauchi’s police chief Mohammed Ladan said a guard was shot dead in the raid in Jama’are, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the state capital Bauchi city.
Setraco Nigeria, a construction and civil engineering company, is a subsidiary of Lebanese-owned Setraco International Holding group.
The Nigerian subsidiary, which was established in 1977, is currently working on expanding a major road in northern Nigeria.
The attack on the construction site came after the same gunmen were repelled while trying to storm a police station and a prison in the town, the police chief said.
Gunmen also launched a similar attack on a police station in the town of Kafin Madaki, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the state capital, triggering a shootout, Ladan said, adding that “the attackers fled without causing any damage.”
Boko Haram, a group blamed for hundreds of deaths in northern Nigeria since 2009, has claimed several attacks on police stations.
Also, the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe State has solicited the full co-operation of residents and other communities in the state to end the Boko Haram insurgency by providing “credible and useful” information on the hideouts of terrorists and their activities.
The solicitation for co-operation of residents was made yesterday in a special letter by the JTF commander.
The commander in the letter, made available to reporters in Damaturu, said: “A time came when criminals and terrorists attempted to snatch this God-given freedom from you (residents), but with the intervention and sacrifices of JTF, relative peace and security are now being experienced. This is however, not where we want to be. We want Yobe State to return fully to her rightful place in the comity of states, where peace and security thrives and you have the freedom to undertake all lawful activities.”
The security of lives and property of residents, according to JTF spokesman, Lt. Lazarus Eli, can only be achieved when residents fully co-operate with the security task force, by providing “timely and useful information and abide by laid down rules and regulations.”
The letter also reads in part: “Nobody has the right to deprive your wife the right to have her husband and your children the right to have their loving father. Provide us with information and we will stop them from achieving their evil plans. I am expecting your calls on the following telephone numbers-07065066662, 07010482820, 08098948202 and 08098948158.”
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