Posted: Sunday 24th February 2013 at 0:01 am

Abduction of Foreigners: Security forces close in on kidnappers

*Intelligence source: ‘They are still inside Bauchi’

By Jide Ajani &  Suzan Edeh

Security agencies are on the trail of the abductors of seven foreign construction workers in Jama’re Local Government Area of Bauchi State.In fact, information pieced together by Sunday Vanguard, yesterday, suggested that the abductees were still being warehoused by insurgents inside Bauchi State.

As a result of this, there has been increased security presence in some strategic areas of the state.

“The kidnappers are still inside Bauchi State and are yet to ferry their victims out.  It is this discovery that has created a heightened security presence in the state”, a top security source said.

Indeed, a group, Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladissudan, Ansaru, for short, which translates as Vanguards for the protection of Muslims in black Africa, claimed responsibility.

Meanwhile, the security situation in the state, monitored by Sunday Vanguard, revealed that security agents have mounted many check points around and in the state capital, a development that led to traffic congestion.

The police have also commenced a 24-hour stop and search operation with a view to stopping the possible relocation of the victims.

Mobile policemen and soldiers were stationed on major highways.

57e2cartoon Abduction of Foreigners: Security forces close in on kidnappers

Many commuters, who were held up in traffic around Yelwa Road, Wunti, Central Bank Road, Awala Junction, Gombe Road and Wunti Dada Road, expressed frustrations concerning the development.

“I am just coming from Abuja, and from Jos to Bauchi Road, the security checks have been hellish for me.  At each security checkpoint, I spent nothing less than an hour. In other instances, I spent nothing less than two hours. This is frustrating and, to make matters worse, the weather has been very hot,”a commutter told Sunday Vanguard.

But reacting to the situation, the state commissioner of police, Mohammed Ladan, said that security had been intensified  to forestall any breakdown of law and order.

Ladan  appealed to members of the public to cooperate with security agents by giving useful information that will lead to the arrest of criminals in the state.

The kidnapping of seven foreigners is the biggest of its kind since the insurgency of Islamic militants reared its head in Bauchi State nay the North.  It occurred on the 16th of February in Jama’re town, about 200 kilometres north of Bauchi, just as the incident has sent a signal to foreigners that the North is a dangerous place.

The expatriates were kidnapped at a Lebanese construction site in the night.

It was learnt that the company for which the foreigners worked was handling a road project that runs from Shuwarin in Jigawa State to Azare in Bauchi State. The Labanese company, Setraco International Holding Group, has its headquarters at the outskirts of Jama’re local government area of Bauchi where the kidnapping took place. In its statement claiming responsibility, the group, on Twitter, said:

“Based on the transgression and atrocities done to the religion of Allah SWT by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali, by Allah’s grace, Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladissudan have the custody of seven persons, which include Lebanese and their European counterparts working with Setraco in Nigeria on the 8th of Rabiul Thani, 1434 equivalent of 7th February, 2013.

“It is stressed that any attempt or act contrary to our condition by the European nations or by the Nigerian government will lead to the happenings as it was in the previous attempt.”  It was signed by one Abu Usamatal Ansary.

The “previous attempt” the group referred was the killing, in Sokoto State, of Franco Lamolinara, an Italian, and Christopher Mcmanus, a Briton, after 10months of abduction last year.

Security also heightened, yesterday, as been heightened throughout Bauchi metropolis and at the headquarters of Triacta Nigeria Limited, a construction company handling the Bauchi International Airport.

According to a staffer of the company, who pleaded anonymity, security agents had been deployed to the area to protect the expatriates handling the airport project and other workers of the company.

“Since the kidnap incident, there has been heavy security at Triacta because most of the people handling the project are foreigners; but work is in progress at  the airport. The foreigners are residing somewhere in the state metropolis; I cannot disclose the place for the sake of their security”, the staffer said.

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