Gunmen kidnapped two Chinese men and a Nigerian man working for a local company in the southeastern state of Anambra March 17. The Chinese were the first foreigners kidnapped outside of the country’s oil heartland in the southern Niger Delta. The men were abducted from their workplace in the industrial town of Nnewi. Four men drove into the premises of the Innoson Group of Companies Ltd, a motorcycle assembly plant, shot in the air, hustled the three men into a four-wheel drive and sped off. Police say they suspect a separatist group operating in the southeastern region may have abducted the men. But the Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has denied any involvement. “We are asking for freedom for our people and have no reason to kidnap expatriates,” MASSOB spokesman Nnamdi Ohiagu told Reuters.
Police had blamed MASSOB for the abduction of about half a dozen local politicians and business people since late last year. The hostages were held for a few days and released after money changed hands. MASSOB denies being involved in violent activities. Its leader has been in detention since 2005 facing treason charges and hundreds of other followers have been arrested. (Reuters, March 19)
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