Authorities in Nigeria say unidentified gunmen have abducted two German nationals, who were working at an archaeological site in the African country’s mid-northern state of Kaduna. Archaeologist Peter Breunig and his associate Johannes Behringer were kidnapped from Jenjela Village on Wednesday morning, said Usman Aliyu, the assistant superintendent of police from the Kaduna Police Command, on Thursday.
He said that Breunig had been leading archaeological excavations by Goethe University in Frankfurt, which is collaborating with Nigeria’s National Commission for Museum and Monuments, and been conducting research there for more than a decade. Aliyu added that Breunig had been assigned security personnel by the government but had rejected them, preferring the company of locals only.
According to some local residents, two women, believed to be German, were with Breunig when armed men “came wielding guns and machetes and asked the two Germans to follow them into the bush.” The locals added, however, that the assailants did not kidnap the two women, and that they shot dead two “village hunters” who went after the kidnappers in an attempt to foil the abduction.
No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the crime. Abduction is common in the crisis-hit African country, whose northern and northeastern parts have been the scene of deadly violence by the Takfiri Boko Haram terrorist group for the last several years, resulting in the death of more than 20,000 people and the displacement of more than 2.7 million others.
On January, unknown gunmen abducted five students and two teachers, including a Turkish national, from an international school in the southwestern state of Ogun. The most notorious case of kidnapping in the country was carried out by Boko Haram terrorists in April 2014, when they kidnapped 276 girls from their secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok in the volatile Borno State. About 80 of the girls managed to escape afterward or were swapped for a number of Boko Harm prisoners, but the fate of the rest remains unknown.