Boko Harem spin off behind Nigeria hostage taking

Seven foreigners, reportedly including a Briton, who have been kidnapped in northern Nigeria are being held by an extremist Islamist group with a record of hostage-taking and murder.

Ansaru, which is described as a jihadi organisation, on Monday claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack on a construction camp in the town of Jama'are, in Bauchi state.

Nigerian authorities have said the workers are from the UK, Greece, Italy, Lebanon and the Philippines. A blurred photo purporting to be of the foreigners was shown on Nigerian TV.

The Foreign Office in London said it was aware of the reports and was checking with the authorities in Abuja. The prime minister's office said the government's priority was to establish the facts about the case.

In response to a question about whether the UK would help in any rescue operation, a No 10 spokeswoman said: "I think that the Foreign Office will want to do what they can."

A guard at the construction camp was shot dead in the raid. According to reports, the raid was preceded by an attack on the local police station where two vehicles were blown up.

It is the worst foreign kidnap case in northern Nigeria since an insurgency led by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram and other organisations intensified nearly two years ago.

Ansaru, whose full name – Jama'atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan – means Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a French national last December, citing France's ban on full-face veils and its support for military action in Mali as reasons for the abduction.

The group is thought to be a breakaway from Boko Haram and seems to have a sharper focus on global jihad rather than a domestic political agenda.

The Brits SAS had a failed attempt at rescuing a different groups of hostages last year.  China has also had captives killed by the Islamist   Usually the hostage taking is an attempt to acquire funds to pay for their war against the government.  The Europeans appear especially eager to make the payments and they have in effect helped to fund the Mali al Qaeda rebels.  Boko Harem is also a group affiliated with al Qaeda.


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