Briton, Italian kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria

The duo were involved in construction of a Nigerian central bank building.

Kano: Gunmen have kidnapped a Briton and an Italian working for a construction firm in northern Nigeria after storming their apartment, police said on Friday, but a ransom had not been demanded.

A German colleague managed to escape by scaling a fence, police said, while a Nigerian engineer was shot and wounded in the incident on Thursday in the city of Birnin Kebbi, said state police commissioner Adamu Hassan.

"Two construction engineers, a Briton and an Italian working for a foreign construction company, B Stabilini, were kidnapped from their lodge in Birnin Kebbi last night by unknown men," said Hassan.

"The kidnappers have not established any contact with us and have so far not demanded for any ransom."

Describing the incident, he said "a horde of gunmen stormed the apartment where the construction workers were staying."

According to the commissioner, a large amount of cash in the lodge where the two expatriates working for the firm were staying was not taken. The firm, B Stabilini, was founded by Italians but is located in Nigeria.

The workers were involved in construction of a Nigerian central bank building in the capital of Kebbi state, located in Nigeria`s far northwest near the border with the nation of Niger, he said.

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Nigeria, Hooman Nouruzi, said officials were aware of reports of a missing British national and were investigating, but could not comment further.

Italian embassy officials declined to comment.

Kidnappings for ransom have occurred frequently in and around the oil-producing Niger Delta region in the predominately Christian south, but have been rare in the mainly Muslim north of Africa`s most populous nation.

Areas of the north are still recovering from widespread deadly rioting following presidential elections on April 16 won by southern incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.

In 2009, a Canadian was kidnapped in northern Kaduna while participating in a Rotary International-organised cultural exchange.

She was held for nearly two weeks before being released. Shortly after her abduction, Nigerian police indicated that her kidnappers had demanded 136,000 dollars in ransom.

Al Qaeda`s north African branch has claimed kidnappings of foreign workers in the neighbouring nation of Niger, but there has been no indication of the group`s involvement in the Nigerian abductions.

Scores of kidnappings for ransom of foreign oil workers have been carried out in the oil-producing Niger Delta region in the south, though a 2009 amnesty deal led to a sharp decline in unrest there.

Most of the kidnap victims in the Delta have been released after a ransom was paid.

Nigeria is Africa`s largest oil producer, but poverty remains widespread. The country is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

Bureau Report