Authorities in northern Nigeria say unknown gunmen have kidnapped two German nationals from a village in Kaduna state in northwestern Nigeria.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Aliyu Usman from the Kaduna Police Command confirmed that gunmen took archaeologist Peter Breunig and his associate Johannes Behringer from Jenjela village in Kaduna state on Wednesday morning.
Usman said police were working with villagers to try and rescue them. “We have launched a manhunt and we are hoping very soon to have a very good result,” he added.
They are said to be part of a four-person team from Goethe University in Frankfurt which is collaborating with Nigeria’s National Commission for Museum and Monuments.
Local villagers as escorts
The Nigerian daily newspaper Vanguard reported on its website that the two were kidnapped at one of the excavation centers in Jenjela in Kagarko Local Government Area. They had been working for the NOK Archeological Center in Kagarko for ten years and were researching Nok culture in Nigeria.
Usman said they had been assigned security personnel because of a spate of kidnappings in the area. But he said they had instead used local villagers as escorts.
Residents said two women, also thought to be German, were with the men when they were attacked.
“The abductors came wielding guns and machetes and asked the two Germans to follow them into the bush,” said one resident, who asked not to be identified because of security fears.
“Surprisingly, they did not kidnap the two female German colleagues of the men. They fired shots into the air to scare off the villagers before abducting the Germans. Two village hunters who decided to go after the abductors were shot dead.”
Flights diverted from Abuja to Kaduna
The kidnapping took place near the road linking Kaduna airport, which lies to the north of the state capital, Kaduna city, with the capital Abuja.
Safety on the road has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks since the federal government announced the closure of Abuja’s only airport for essential runway repairs.
All domestic flights will be diverted to Kaduna airport from 8 March for six weeks but international carriers have refused to re-route their services.
Questions have been raised about the airport’s ability to handle long-haul flights as well as security on the Abuja road after a wave of kidnappings.
There has also been a renewal of deadly violence between Fulani herdsmen and farmers over land and grazing rights in southern Kaduna that has killed at least 200 people since December.
Mark Caldwell (AP, AFP)