Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Group Claims Kidnap of Frenchman in Katsina

A group called Jama'atul Ansarul Muslimeena fil Bilad Sudan yesterday claimed the recent kidnapping of a French citizen in Nigeria, citing France's push for military intervention in Mali as a justification.

Late Wednesday some 30 gunmen stormed the residence of Mr Frances Colump in Katsina. They killed a security guard and a neighbour during the raid. The gunmen also attacked a police station.

The group "announces to the world, especially the French government, that it was responsible for the abduction of engineer Francis Colump, ... 63, working for the French company Vergnet," said a statement quoted by AFP news aency.

"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 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.

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