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Nigeria Islamist Group Claims Kidnap of French National

An Islamist group in Nigeria, which identified itself as Ansaru, said it was responsible for the abduction of a French engineer last week from the northern Katsina state.

“The reason for his kidnap is the stance of the French government and the French people on Islam and Muslims,” the previously unknown group said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday, written in northern Nigeria’s Hausa language. Apart from banning the use of the Muslim veil, France is also leading efforts for military intervention against “the Islamic state in northern Mali,” the group said.

Gunmen atacked the residence of Frances Colump in the northern city of Katsina on Dec. 20 and killed two other people in the compound before taking him away, police said. It was the latest in a growing number of abductions in northern Nigeria targeting Western nationals.

A British citizen and an Italian seized last year from the northwestern town of Birnin Kebbi were killed in the city of Sokoto in March by their captors during a joint raid by British and Nigerian forces to free them.

A German engineer kidnapped in the northern city of Kano in January was killed by his captors on May 30 when an attempt was made by security forces to release him.

Africa’s top oil producer, split roughly between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south, has seen a surge of bomb and gun attacks claimed by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram. The group, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” want to impose Islamic rule in Africa’s most populous country of more than 160 million people.

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