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Boko Haram planning to kidnap foreigners —US, UK

By  | 

 BAYO AKINLOYE

with agency report

The United States Embassy in Nigeria and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office have raised the alarm that the Islamist group, Boko Haram, is planning to kidnap expats working in the country.

According to a terse statement issued on its website, the US embassy warned Americans to avoid a certain area in the North-East.

The statement said, “The US Embassy has received a credible report that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap foreigners working along the Kumshe-Banki axis in Bama Local Government Area, Borno State.

“Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”

In its own message to British citizens made available to our correspondent on Friday evening, the FCO said, “Summary and Terrorism: Reports received (indicated) that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap western foreign workers in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State, along with the Kumshe-Banki axis. The potential risk of kidnapping in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence, especially in the North-East of Nigeria (is high).”

The Islamist group is known for its vicious attacks and abduction of women and children. Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people.

Agence-France Presse said it visited Banki with other international media two weeks ago.

Humanitarian agencies operating in the town include the World Food Programme, International Organisation for Migration and other UN bodies.

Banki was liberated from Boko Haram in September 2015 and is currently home to some 32,000 displaced people in a sprawling, overcrowded camp.

The surrounding area still suffers from frequent Boko Haram attacks on military convoys, as well as suicide bombings.

Fighters loyal to Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who were pushed out of their camps in the Sambisa Forest area last December, are believed to be responsible.

The kidnap warning and the threat to humanitarian operations underline the fragility of security in northeast Nigeria, despite claims from the government and military that Boko Haram is a spent force.

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