Gunmen kidnap American and Canadian on road in central Nigeria, kill police security detail

LAGOS - Gunmen ambushed an American and a Canadian traveling through Nigeria's northern Kaduna state, kidnapping them and killing two policemen, a state police spokesman said Wednesday. The two foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan in Kaduna state to the capital, Abuja, on Tuesday night when they were ambushed around Kagarko, Kaduna state police spokesman Mukhtar Aliyu said. "The two police escorts attached to them engaged the kidnappers in a fierce gun battle, which resulted in the unfortunate death of the two police officers," he said.

The American and Canadian are investors setting up solar stations in villages around Kafanchan, Aliyu said. Security officers, including an anti-kidnapping unit, have been deployed to the area to ensure the perpetrators are apprehended while the two foreigners are rescued unharmed, he said. "We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen kidnapped in Nigeria.

The safety and protection of U.S. citizens overseas are among our top priorities," according to a statement by the State Department. It said no further details were available. Global Affairs Canada spokesman John Babcock said it was aware of the reports of the kidnapping of two Canadian citizens, indicating a possible dual nationality.

"Consular officials in Nigeria are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information. To protect the privacy of the individuals concerned, further details on this case cannot be released," Babcock said. Kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway.

Last year two German archaeologists were seized at gunpoint less than 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Abuja and later freed unharmed by their kidnappers. In 2016, Sierra Leone's deputy high commissioner was kidnapped at gunpoint on the highway from Abuja to Kaduna and held for five days before he was released. Victims usually are freed unharmed after a ransom is paid, though security forces have rescued a few high-profile abductees.

A number of bandits, including herdsmen, have been arrested.

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