Gunmen kidnap Lebanese man in south Nigeria, wound three soldiers

Reuters News

7/9/2013 10:46:11 AM - Reuters News

ONITSHA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen kidnapped a Lebanese official from a construction company in southern Nigeria on Tuesday, after opening fire on his convoy and wounding three soldiers, the military and a security source said.

The attack targeted the official from Lebanese company Setraco, who was travelling through Benin city, military spokesman Captain Roseline Managbe, said.

The company was not immediately available for comment.

The security source said two of the three soldiers shot in the kidnapping later died of their wounds, although Managbe denied this. The military rarely admits significant casualties on its own side.

"We suspect the attackers to be criminal kidnappers, not an Islamist group," Managbe said.

Islamist militant groups Boko Haram and Ansaru have both kidnapped foreigners. The latter group was responsible for a kidnapping of seven foreign construction workers for Setraco in February in a remote part of northern Bauchi state, all of whom are now presumed dead.

Islamist kidnappings are rare and all have happened in Nigeria's majority Muslim north. Kidnapping of foreigners and locals for ransom is rife in the south.

(Reporting by Anamesere Igboeroteonwu; Writing and additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Abuja; Editing by Michael Roddy)