German hostage killed in Nigeria during rescue bid
KANO, Nigeria - Agence France-Presse
A picture taken from a video obtained in March 2012 by the Mauritanian agency ANI reportedly shows German engineer Edgar Fritz Raupach, his hands tied behind his back, surrounded by gunmen. Raupach, kidnapped in Nigeria in January, purportedly by Al Qaeda's north African branch, was killed by his captors on May 31, 2012 during a military raid in the northern city of Kano, security sources said. AFP photoA German kidnapped in Nigeria in January and purportedly held by Al-Qaeda's north African branch was killed by his captors Thursday during a military raid to save him, security sources said.
Meanwhile, news of a fresh kidnapping emerged in the country, with Italy's foreign ministry and Nigerian authorities confirming the abduction of an Italian engineer in Kwara State, located in central-west Nigeria.
The German victim was killed by his captors as Nigerian security forces conducted a raid early Thursday in the northern city of Kano, according to the security sources.
Residents reported hearing explosions and gunfire rock the neighbourhood of Danbare at around 6:00 am, lasting more than 30 minutes, and said it appeared several hundred soldiers were involved along with trucks and armoured vehicles.
"The German abducted in January has been killed by his abductors early this morning," a military official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"Following intelligence reports, men of (a military task force) raided a hideout where he was being held by his abductors." A shootout occurred and the abductors also detonated explosives, said the official.
"They were subdued, but realising that it was the end for them, they killed the hostage," the official said.
Another military source and a police source confirmed Edgar Raupach's death. The victim was said to have been shot and stabbed by his captors.
The sources also said a number of the abductors had been killed in the raid, with different accounts putting the figure between two and five.
According to residents, following the raid the house was destroyed with an earth mover as authorities have done with other extremist hideouts following recent raids.
The engineer was kidnapped on the outskirts of Kano in January in the days after a series of bombings and shootings claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram, which killed at least 185 people in the city.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said in March it was holding the German and that it wanted to swap him for a jailed Muslim woman, a private news agency in Mauritania said.
AQIM has not been known to operate directly in Nigeria, though Islamist group Boko Haram and other extremists in the country are believed to have links to the group.
In late March, Nigerian authorities said they had detained five men, including a Mauritanian, believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda's north African branch, over the kidnapping of the German.
The hostage's death marked the second such incident in recent months in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.
In March, security forces faced criticism after a failed bid to rescue an Italian and a British hostage.
Their captors killed them before Nigerian forces could rescue them in a joint operation with British security forces.
Nigerian officials have blamed the kidnap of the British and the Italian on a faction of Boko Haram, which had not been previously known to carry out abductions. A purported Boko Haram spokesman denied any involvement.
One security source however suggested that the operation had been masterminded by a man named Abu Mohammad, said to have been affiliated with Al Qaeda's north African branch and Boko Haram.
Nigerian authorities have said Abu Mohammed died of gunshot wounds sustained during his arrest.
Security sources said information obtained following recent arrests made in Kano as well as the northern city of Kaduna had led to Thursday's raid.
On Tuesday, Nigerian soldiers arrested an alleged "high-profile" member of Boko Haram during a raid in Kano. They had recently made several arrests in Kaduna which yielded intelligence, a military source said.
Germany had confirmed one of its nationals was kidnapped in northern Nigeria, and the German construction company Bilfinger Berger has said he was one of their employees.
Police in Kano had said the German man was attached to Nigerian construction firm Dantata and Sawoe.
In the fresh kidnapping that emerged on Thursday, Italian building and civil engineering firm Borini Prono confirmed that one of their employees had been abducted on Monday, but would not release further details.
Unidentified armed men were said to have snatched the engineer as he inspected road-draining works in the city of Ilorin.