A group of about 30 gunmen had snatched the French engineer from a heavily guarded compound in northern Nigeria, police say. The attack occurred in Katsina state to be precise. Katsina shares a border with Niger, where al-Qaeda’s North African wing is known to operate. However, Nigeria’s Islamist militant group has not staged many attacks in Katsina.
President Hollande told Europe 1 radio in France that the kidnappers were “probably linked to AQIM [Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] or the groups which are today in Mali”. Islamist groups which are linked to al-Qaeda seized control of the whole of northern Mali, including the historic city of Timbuktu, in April.
According to Mr Hollande, “We have to be firm when it comes to terrorism, while at the same time maintaining contacts to free” French nationals. Groups linked to AQIM are also believed to be holding several other French nationals kidnapped in Niger and Mali. The engineer kidnapped on Thursday worked for a French company on a wind power project in the town of Rimi, about 25km (15 miles) from Katsina city, reports the AFP news agency. Katsina state police commissioner Abdullahi Magaji also told AFP he did not think Boko Haram was behind the kidnapping.