Saturday, March 9, 2013

Nigeria: Update--Seven Foreign Workers Abducted on 2/16/13 Reportedly Executed

According to The Associated Press, the Nigerian terrorist group, Ansaru, announced earlier today (March 9) that it had murdered seven foreign workers employed by the Lebanese construction company, Setraco, in the state of Bauchi. These are the same seven workers that were kidnapped from Setraco's business premises on February 16.

The seven victims reportedly include four Lebanese citizens and one each from Britain, Greece and Italy.

Upon hearing of the killings, the British Foreign Office and representatives of all countries involved promptly took steps to confirm media announcements and graphic images.

At the moment there are various theories as to what prompted the executions, none of which can be confirmed at this time. 
 
An online image accompanying the posting appeared to show a gunman standing over dead bodies.

COMMENT: In January 2013, Ansaru declared itself a splinter group independent from Boko Haram, the north's main Islamic terrorist group, which has vowed to establish sharia law throughout Nigeria. Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege," has launched a guerrilla campaign of bombings and shootings across Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north. Boko Haram is blamed for at least 792 killings last year alone [2012]. 

Britain has previously linked Ansaru to the May 2011 kidnapping of Christopher McManus, who was abducted with Italian Franco Lamolinara from a home in Kebbi state. The men were held for months, before their captors killed them in March 2012 during a failed Nigerian military raid backed up by a British special operations unit  in Sokoto, the main city in Nigeria's northwest.

Ansaru earlier claimed the kidnapping in December of a French national working on a renewable energy project in Nigeria's northern Katsina state. Meanwhile, a group of men claiming to belong to Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of seven French tourists from northern Cameroon in late February.

Ansaru reportedly has very close links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the latter's group North African "franchise."  Ansaru initially said it carried out the kidnappings in part as a response to the French military intervention in Mali. The French, backed up by Malian soldiers, have been fighting the Islamic militants who seized control of northern cities there in the weeks following a coup that toppled the West African nation's democratically elected government. 

Needless to say, the execution of the seven foreigners in Bauchi may well send shock-waves through the expat community in North Africa that will force one of two events: Either stepped up security of  expats in the North Africa or a draw-down of visible foreign targets.

To make matters worse, there are now a multitude of bad actors conducting terrorist operations in a multitude of Sub-Saharan nations that put all foreigners at risk.  

This report will be updated as soon as new information becomes available.