Fears Briton is among hostages 'taken by Islamists' in Nigeria

Is capture of seven foreigners the latest example of extremists flexing their muscle in north Africa?

LAST UPDATED AT 11:22 ON Mon 18 Feb 2013

IT IS believed that a Briton may be among a group of seven foreign workers kidnapped at a construction camp in Northern Nigeria on Saturday night when an armed gang entered the facility after killing a security guard.

Police in Bauchi state told Sky News that a British worker was among those taken hostage but this has not been confirmed by the Foreign Office. Greece, Lebanon and Italy have all said their citizens were captured in the raid.

The identity of the gunmen is still unknown - but Sky says the region is under attack from Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group that wants to impose Sharia law in Nigeria, and there are fears the incident may be inspired by the capture of foreign workers by Islamist terrorists at a gas plant in Algeria last month.

The BBC says Saturday's raid is the biggest hostage-taking in northern Nigeria in recent times, though there have been a number of smaller incidents such as the kidnapping of a French national, Francis Colump, in the northern state of Katsina.

The site which was attacked on Saturday was run by the Lebanese-owned company Setraco which is expanding a "major road" in Bauchi state. The raid was preceded by an attack on the police station in the town of Jama'are – about 125 miles north of the state capital – in which two vehicles were destroyed.

The BBC says Boko Haram has emerged as "one of the most prolific groups in West Africa" and has attacked the town of Bauchi several times.

Earlier this month, nine polio vaccinators were shot dead at two health centres in northern Nigeria. The BBC says some Nigerian Muslim leaders have opposed polio vaccinations, claiming they could cause infertility. · 

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