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Nigeria offers help after Germans killed, abducted

October 27, 2014

Gunmen are reported to have shot dead a German man and kidnapped another. The two men were working for the construction company Julius Berger when their vehicles came under fire.

Nigeria Deutschland Frankreich Steinmeier und Fabius bei Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka

The incidents, which occurred on Friday, were only reported on Monday, when German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier happened to be in the country on an official visit.

Nigerian police said the Germans were traveling in two separate vehicles without security escorts when they came under fire near the town of Sagamu in Ogun state.

"About four armed men emerged from the bush…and attacked," police spokesman Abimbola Oyeyemi told the AFP news agency. "A bullet hit one German and he was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital, while the hoodlums abducted another German."

Speaking to reporters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Monday Steinmeier said that the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, had pledged his government's assistance in seeking the return of the missing German. He also said there was nothing else to report on the matter, but that "we are of course in contact with the company" (that employed the two German men).

Employer working with authorities

Earlier on Monday, the men's employer, the Julius Berger construction company, confirmed that it had been informed of the incidents. A spokeswoman said that the company was working with local authorities to find the hostage.

"Julius Berger is currently working in close cooperation with the Nigerian authorities to make certain the safe and prompt release of the person abducted ... (and) believes this to be an isolated criminal incident," she said.

Julius Berger International has around 600 employees in Nigeria, and is involved in several construction, gas, oil and infrastructure projects in the country.

There has been no claim of responsibility for Friday's attacks.

Abductions targeting foreigners, who are often released after a ransom payment, are common in southern Nigeria. Kidnappings also occur in the north, home to the militant Islamist group Boko Haram which kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April.

In July, a German national was kidnapped in the northeastern state of Adamawa. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Talks on Boko Haram, Ebola

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, were in Nigeria to meet government officials and representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Among other things, they were to discuss the threat posed by Boko Haram and the Ebola virus.

pfd/rc (dpa, AFP)