The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

March 11, 2013

Hostage killings a new, dangerous turn for Nigeria

(Continued)

KANO, Nigeria —

Ansaru issued a short statement Saturday saying its fighters kidnapped the foreigners from the construction company's camp at Jama'are, a town 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state. In the attack, gunmen first assaulted a local prison and burned police trucks, authorities said. Then the attackers blew up a back fence at the construction company's compound and took over, killing a guard in the process, witnesses and police said.

Local officials in Nigeria initially identified one of the hostages as a Filipino, something the Philippines government later denied.

The gunmen appeared to be organized and knew who they wanted to target, leaving the Nigerian household staff at the residence unharmed, while quickly abducting the foreigners, a witness said.

In an online statement Saturday claiming the killings, Ansaru said it killed the hostages in part because of local Nigerian journalists reporting on the arrival of British military aircraft to Bauchi. However, Ansaru's statement cited local news articles that instead said the airplanes were spotted at the international airport in Abuja, the nation's central capital 180 miles (290 kilometers) southwest.

The U.K. Defense Ministry said Sunday the planes it flew to Abuja ferried Nigerian troops and equipment to Bamako, Mali. Nigerian soldiers have been sent to Mali to help French forces and Malian troops battle Islamic extremists there. The British military said it also transported Ghanaian soldiers to Mali the same way.

The ministry declined to comment further. Ansaru had said it believed the planes were part of a Nigerian and British rescue mission for the abducted hostages.

The U.K. has offered military support in the past in Nigeria to free hostages. In March 2012, its special forces backed a failed Nigerian military raid to free Christopher McManus, who had been abducted months earlier with Italian Franco Lamolinara from a home in Kebbi state. Both hostages were killed in that rescue attempt.

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