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Militants claim they hold foreign workers in Nigeria

BAUCHI, Nigeria — A little-known Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility Monday for the kidnapping of seven foreign workers from northern Nigeria, threatening their safety if anyone tried to intervene.

The group that calls itself Ansaru issued a short statement, in which it said its fighters kidnapped the foreigners Saturday night from a construction company’s camp at Jama’are, a town about 125 miles north of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state.

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Authorities said those kidnapped include one British citizen, one Greek, one Italian, three Lebanese and one Filipino, all employees of a Lebanese construction company called Setraco.

The statement said Ansaru committed the abduction ‘‘based on the transgression and atrocities shown to the religion of Allah by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali.’’

Currently, the French military is conducting operations with the Malian army to rout Islamic fighters who took over that country’s north in the weeks after a military coup there last year.

‘‘It is stressed that any attempt or act contrary to our conditions by the European nations or by the Nigerian government will’’ endanger the hostages, the statement read. The statement offered no conditions, suggesting the group would later contact authorities to make a ransom demand.

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