Islamist group claims Nigeria kidnap of French national
The radical Islamist group Ansaru on Sunday claimed the recent kidnapping of a French citizen in northern Nigeria, citing France's push for military intervention in Mali as a justification.
Ansaru "announces to the world, especially the French government, that it was responsible for the abduction of engineer Francis Colump ... working for the French company Vergnet," said a statement emailed to journalists.
Vergnet, 63, has a wind power project in Katsina.
Late last Wednesday some 30 gunmen stormed the workers' residence in Katsina state where Colump was staying. They killed a security guard and a neighbour during the raid.
"The reason for his kidnap is the stance of the French government and the French people on Islam and Muslims," the statement said.
The group specifically pointed to "France's major role in the (planned) attack on the Islamic state in northern Mali."
It also cited France's "law outlawing the use of Islamic veil by Muslim women, which is an infringement on religious rights."
Paris has backed plans to deploy a west African force to northern Mali to flush out the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist groups who took control of the vast desert territory earlier this year. Last year, it passed a law banning the wearing of the full-face veil.
"We inform the French government that this group will continue launching attacks on the French government and French citizens ... as long as it does not change its stance on these two issues," the Ansaru statement said.
In November, Britain's interior ministry identified Ansaru as a "Nigeria-based terrorist organisation" and declared membership or support for it illegal.
The group is thought to have ties to Boko Haram, Islamist insurgents who have killed hundreds in northern Nigeria since 2009.
Ansaru was suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of a British and an Italian in northern Nigeria last year.
© 2012 AFP