Monday, March 11, 2013

Nigeria: Update--Details Document Brutality of Seven Foreign Workers Murdered

According to The Associated Press, a video posted online appears to show the corpses of some of the seven foreign hostages abducted by Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria and later killed, a gruesome warning of the growing dangers in Nigeria and neighboring countries.

The video, viewed by AP on Monday (March 11), matched still images released earlier by the Islamic extremist group, Ansaru, when it claimed the killings. In the video, a gunman stands in sand, holding a rifle near what appears to be dead bodies. 

A later shot in the video shows three male corpses, one of whom appears to have been killed by a gunshot wound to the head from a high-powered weapon. The video has no sound. 

Ansaru fighters kidnapped the foreigners on February 16, from a camp for the construction company Setraco at Jama'are, a town 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state.

The majority of attack in Nigeria have been blamed on Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group that grew out of the remains of a sect that sparked a riot and a security crackdown in Nigeria in 2009, in which about 700 people were killed.

COMMENT: Boko Haram has hit international targets before, including an August 2011 car bombing of the United Nations office in Abuja that killed 25 people and wounded more than 100. 

An online video also purportedly claims that Boko Haram is currently holding hostage a family of seven French tourists who were abducted from neighboring Cameroon in late February. The group is blamed for killing at least 792 people last year alone. 

Ansaru, which analysts believe split from Boko Haram in January 2012, seems to be focusing much more on Western targets. Analysts say it has closer links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and cares more about international issues, as opposed to Boko Haram's largely local grievances. 

Although the 2011 attack on the United Nations compound, executed by Boko Haram, may stand out as the single most lethal attack against the foreign community, the kidnapping and execution of the seven foreign workers may well stand out as one of the most brutal incidents of late.

Historically, foreigners have always been kidnapped in Nigeria, mostly in the oil-rich Delta, but they have simply been abducted for ransom. 

Ansaru no doubt has graduated to a much higher level of blatant disregard for human life that clearly will send shudders through the expat community for some time to come.