Wind engineer kidnapped by Islamist group

NIGERIA: A French engineer working on a 10MW project being built by Vergnet in northern Nigeria is being held captive by an Islamic group, following the man's abduction in December.

A Vergnet turbine being installed
A Vergnet turbine being installed

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French company Vergnet is installing 37 of its GEV MP 275kW turbines at the site, near Katsina, near the border with Niger. It is due to be Nigeria's first industrial-scale wind power plant.

Local police say a group of about 30 armed men seized the 63-year-old, who works for an unnamed subcontractor, from his residence in a guarded compound. Two Nigerian security agents and a neighbour were killed, while a policeman was seriously wounded during the attack.

Vergnet deputy director Laurent Vergnet said the company has suspended work at the site but declined to comment further. He said: "It is a very complicated and delicate situation."

The Islamist group Ansaru claimed responsibility, saying the abduction was in protest against French support for the "military attack on the Islamic state in northern Mali" and the ban on women wearing full veils in France.

The group warned that it would carry out other attacks on the French government and its citizens, particularly in "black Africa", if the government failed to change its position.

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