The British Government yesterday released a travel advisory warning its citizens to stay away from many states in the northern part of Nigeria, after an increase in attacks blamed on Islamist militants, Boko Haram and the abduction of several foreigners earlier this month.
Gunmen had on February 16, killed a security guard and abducted a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese workers after storming the compound of Lebanese construction firm, Setraco in Bauchi State.
It was the worst case of foreigners being kidnapped since an insurgency by Boko Haram intensified two years ago.
Britain upped its travel risk ratings yesterday, advising against any travel to Bauchi State and Okene in Kogi State where militants last month attacked Nigerian troops who were bound for Mali to counter an Islamist insurgency.
A statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised “against all-but-essential travel” to Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states.
There are concerns among Western governments that the militants may link up with other terrorist groups in the region, such as al-Qaeda’s North African wing, AQIM, especially when the ongoing conflict in Mali is taken into consideration.
Britain put Ansaru on its official “terrorist group” list in November , saying it was aligned with al Qaeda and was behind the abduction of a Briton and an Italian killed last year during a failed rescue attempt.
Islamist group Ansaru claimed responsibility for the Setraco raid in Bauchi and the Okene attack.
France, on its part, sent troops to Mali last month to help oust Islamist rebels.