MS Risk Blog

US and UK Warn that Boko Haram Planning Foreign Kidnappings in Northeastern Nigeria

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The UK Foreign Office has issued a new travel alert, warning that militant group Boko Haram is “actively planning to kidnap westerners to raise ransom money.” In its advice, it disclosed, “we have received reports that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap western foreign workers in Bama local government area of Borno state, along the Kumshe-Banki axis,” adding “if you are working in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence, especially in the north east of Nigeria, you should be alive to the potential risk of kidnapping as a means by the terrorist group to raise funds.” The Foreign Office issued the warning after receiving reports that the group was plotting kidnappings in the northeastern region of the country, where militants remain active despite ongoing military operations.

The United States has also warned its citizen about the risk, stating that the warning was based on “credible” information. Both countries have disclosed that the affected area is in the Bama local government area of Borno state, which is located near the border with Cameroon.

The latest warning underlines the continued fragile security situation in northeastern Nigeria, despite claims by the Nigerian government and military that Boko Haram is a spent force.

Boko Haram has kidnapping thousands of women and children, including more than 200 schoolgirls who were taken in April 2014 from the Borno state town of Chibok. Since 2009, at least 20,000 people have been killed in the insurgency. However abductions of foreigners by the group have been rare. Such kidnap for ransom schemes however have been employed by other terrorist groups operating in the West African region.