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Nigeria extremists claim abduction of 7 foreigners

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 18, 2013 at 8:55 a.m.

— A little-known Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility Monday for the kidnapping of seven foreign workers from northern Nigeria, threatening their safety if anyone tried to intervene and free them.

The group that calls itself Ansaru issued a short statement to journalists, later obtained by The Associated Press, in which it said its fighters kidnapped the foreigners Saturday night from a construction company’s camp at Jama’are, a town about 125 miles north of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state.

Authorities have said those kidnapped include one British citizen, one Greek, one Italian, three Lebanese and one Filipino, all employees of a Lebanese construction company called Setraco.

The statement said Ansaru committed the abduction “based on the transgression and atrocities shown to the religion of Allah by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali.”

“It is stressed that any attempt or act contrary to our conditions by the European nations or by the Nigerian government will” endanger the hostages, the statement read. The statement offered no conditions, suggesting the group would later contact authorities to make a ransom demand.

Police and security officials in Nigeria did not immediately respond the statement. Greek and Italian diplomats have confirmed their citizens were abducted, while British officials have only said they continue to investigate the claims.

The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, issued a statement earlier Monday saying none of those taken was a U.S. citizen.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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