Two Americans, two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria: Police

Two Americans and two Canadians have been kidnapped and two Nigerian police escorts killed in an ambush in northern Kaduna state. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 January 2018
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Two Americans, two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria: Police

LAGOS: Two Americans and two Canadians have been kidnapped and two Nigerian police escorts killed in an ambush in northern Kaduna state, police said Wednesday, in the latest abduction targeting foreigners.
State police spokesman Mukhtar Aliyu said “unknown armed men” seized the four North Americans on the road to Abuja at 7:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Tuesday.
“They engaged in a fierce gunbattle with the two police escorts attached to the expatriates, who unfortunately lost their lives,” he added.
No further details were given and Aliyu said “every possible means” were being used to rescue the four abductees and arrest the kidnappers.
In Washington, a State Department official referred to the abduction of only one US citizen.
“We are aware of reports of a US citizen kidnapped in Nigeria,” he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The safety and protection of US citizens overseas are among our top priorities,” he added.
A State Department travel advisory for urges US citizens to “reconsider” traveling to Nigeria, warning that “violent crime such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping and rape is common throughout the country.”
Global Affairs Canada. which manages Canada’s diplomatic and consular relations, is “aware of reports of the kidnapping of two Canadian citizens in Nigeria,” spokesman John Babcock said, “Consular officials in Nigeria are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information,” he added.
Kidnapping has long been a problem in Nigeria’s southern states, where high-profile individuals, including the families of prominent politicians, are regularly seized.
Victims are usually released after several days once a ransom is paid.
In recent years the crime has spread across the country as the economy has stalled. A crackdown on cattle rustling has been blamed for rising numbers of abductions in the north.
In October last year, an armed gang seized four British missionaries working for a medical charity in the oil-rich but impoverished state of Delta in the south.
One of the hostages was killed while the three other hostages were later released.
Also in October, the Vatican said an Italian priest was kidnapped near Benin City, the capital of Edo state, which borders Delta state to the north. He was also later released.
Safety on the Kaduna-Abuja road came under intense scrutiny last year when the federal government announced the closure of the capital’s only airport for essential runway repairs.
Many foreign missions and companies advised staff to limit their travel during the closure period, as all domestic and some international flights were switched to Abuja.
In July 2016, Sierra Leone’s defense attache to Nigeria was kidnapped by men in military fatigues armed with AK-47 rifles at a fake checkpoint on the Abuja-Kaduna road.


Outrage as Philippines probes farmer ‘massacre’

Updated 4 min 33 sec ago
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Outrage as Philippines probes farmer ‘massacre’

  • Up to 40 gunmen attacked a group of about 25 people who had entered the plantation near the city of Sagay just hours earlier to sow their own crops
  • Previously, nine farmers were gunned down in a sugar plantation in central Philippines

MANILA: Philippine authorities said Monday they have launched a probe into the mass slaying of nine farmers gunned down after taking over part of a sugar plantation to grow food for themselves.
The deadly attack has provoked outrage in the Philippines, as well as criticism of Manila’s slow-moving program to redistribute farmland to millions of sharecroppers — tenant farmers who give a part of each crop as rent — who remain mired in poverty.
The violence erupted Saturday on the central island of Negros, the center of the nation’s sugar industry and home to some of the country’s wealthiest landowners as well as some of its poorest farm workers.
Up to 40 gunmen attacked a group of about 25 people who had entered the plantation near the city of Sagay just hours earlier to sow their own crops.
“This was... a grim reflection of the decades-old failure of the government’s agrarian reform program to extricate poor Filipino farmers from vicious and degrading cycle of poverty,” Senator Leila De Lima said.
Authorities said they were investigating reports the farmers were killed by “goons” employed by either the landowner or entities that leased the land.
“We vow to mobilize all available resources to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” Philippine national police chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters.
The Philippines passed a law in 1988 to redistribute public and private agricultural lands to landless farm workers.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said his ministry has handed out 4.8 million hectares (12 million acres) to nearly three million people, but more than 800,000 hectares have yet to be broken up.
“There are areas such as these where we have not really been able to distribute (land titles), and maybe that’s one reason why some of our farmer brethren resorted to farming land that is not their own,” he said.
Lawsuits are either delaying or completely stopping the effort in some areas, including the Sagay plantation where the violence occurred, he added.
Farm workers account for about 20 million people, a fifth of the Philippine population, who live on less than two dollars a day, the government says.
“Children in Negros work in haciendas (plantations) together with their families because of poverty due to government’s neglect,” the children’s rights group Salinlahi Alliance said Sunday, denounced the killing as a “massacre.”