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Guard slain, 7 abducted at Nigeria camp

BAUCHI, Nigeria — Gunmen attacked a camp for a construction company in rural northern Nigeria, killing a guard and kidnapping seven foreign workers from Britain, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, and the Philippines, authorities said Sunday, in the biggest kidnapping yet in a region under attack by Islamist extremists.

The attack Saturday night occurred in Jama’are, a town in Bauchi state. There, the gunmen first attacked a local prison, burning two police trucks, Bauchi state police spokesman Hassan Muhammed said.

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The gunmen then targeted a workers’ camp for Lebanese construction company Setraco, which is building a road in the area, Muhammed said. The gunmen shot a guard to death at the camp before kidnapping the foreign workers, the spokesman said.

‘‘The gunmen came with explosives, which they used to break some areas,’’ Muhammed said.

One British citizen, one Greek, one Italian, three Lebanese, and one Filipino were kidnapped, said Adamu Aliyu, the chairman of the government area that encompasses Jama’are. He said one hostage was a woman.

Italian news agency ANSA later said authorities confirmed an Italian had been kidnapped. It quoted Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi saying the safety of the hostage must be given ‘‘absolute priority.’’

Greece confirmed one of its citizens was abducted. A statement from Greece’s foreign ministry said authorities had a plane on standby to send investigators to Nigeria.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Sunday it was looking into the kidnappings.

No group claimed responsibility for the abductions, though Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north has been under attack by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.

Nigeria’s weak central government has been unable to stop the group’s bloody guerrilla campaign of shootings and bombings. The sect is blamed for killing at least 792 people in 2012 alone, according to an Associated Press count.

Boko Haram means ‘‘Western education is sacrilege’’ in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s north.

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