Four Britons kidnapped in southern Nigeria

In this March file photo, Chadian soldiers sit in a military transport plane as they head to Diffa, Niger before transferring to a helicopter bound for Damasak, Nigeria. Niger has suffered extremist attacks for years, the local al-Qaida affiliate staged dramatic kidnappings of foreigners, Boko Haram from neighboring Nigeria brought suicide bombings across the border. (AP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Four Britons kidnapped in southern Nigeria

WARRI: Suspected militants have kidnapped four British nationals in southern Nigeria, police and community leaders said on Wednesday.
The four had been providing “free medical care and religious activities” in the Burutu area of Delta state, said Chief Theo Fakama, from the local Enukorowa community.
Fakama said locals were “saddened” by the kidnapping as the victims had “brought succor to residents of the community for the past three years.”
The spokesman for Delta state police, Andrew Aniamaka, confirmed the kidnapping, which happened on Oct. 13.
“The victims are of British nationality, two of whom are a couple, and have been rendering humanitarian services in the area for a while.
“But unfortunately, they didn’t let the authorities know of their presence in the area all this while.
“There is a militant group that has been operating in the area and we believe they are the ones behind the abduction.
“Immediately the militants struck, they whisked the victims to the interior regions of the creek where we believe they are being held for the past five days.”
It was unclear whether any contact had been made with the kidnappers or the motive for the seizure, he added.
Kidnapping for ransom has long been a risk in Nigeria’s south, where high-profile individuals and their families are a frequent target for criminal gangs.
Victims are usually released after a few days once payment is made.
On Oct. 14, the Vatican said an Italian priest was kidnapped by gunman just outside Benin City, which is the capital of Edo state and neighbors Delta state to the north.
Delta state commissioner of police Zanna Ibrahim told reporters in the state capital, Asaba, on Tuesday: “An anti-kidnapping team is already on the trail of the suspects.”
He suggested the abduction could be linked to a recent military operation against violent crime, which has seen an increase in troops in southern Nigeria.


Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L) talks with National Security Adviser John Bolton. (Reuters)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

  • When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
  • The two men decided to have “regular” meetings

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with John Bolton, the new national security adviser to President Donald Trump, at the Pentagon on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
The breakfast meeting came amid US media reports that Mattis risks being isolated by Trump’s more bellicose coterie of advisers, including Bolton, an Iraq War-era hawk who has advocated for military action in both Iran and North Korea.
Bolton “was here this morning,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
The two men decided to have “regular” meetings, she added, noting that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to run the State Department, could join them.
When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, is one of a dwindling pool of original Trump picks not to have drawn negative attention from his mercurial boss.
According to multiple reports, after a suspected chemical attack in Syria this month, he successfully pushed Trump to only taking limited action in response, while Bolton wanted a larger operation.
Mattis used to meet regularly with Rex Tillerson, who was fired last month from his position as secretary of state.
Pompeo is seen as being more hawkish than Mattis, further raising the possibility of the Pentagon chief’s influence waning.