Locals in Kaduna staged a formidable attempt to rescue two German nationals abducted on Wednesday, but their efforts ended on a deadly note as two residents were shot dead, witnesses have told PREMIUM TIMES.
Peter Breunig, a professor of archaeology, and his colleague, Johannes Buringer, were seized while excavating a site in Jenjela village of Kagargo Local Government Area.
Their kidnappers shot and killed two men who made efforts to foil the abduction.
Usman Kagarko, a witness who joined many others in going after the assailants, said their effort ended when the kidnappers turned back and opened fire.
“We had to scamper for our safety when they opened fire, shooting sporadically at us, killing two local hunters who were in our lead as we chased them on our motorcycles and on foot,” ,” he told PREMIUM TIMES. “If only we are armed or in company of armed security, we would have stopped them because they are on foot.”
He gave the names of the two victims as Anas Ibrahim and Adamu Abdulrahim.
He said many locals were familiar with the Germans who for many years frequently travelled from Abuja to Kaduna for their work.
“So we felt personally concerned that this very friendly foreigners are innocently abducted by criminals under our nose,” he said.
The incident occurred after police deployed special units to Southern Kaduna to prevent the incessant violence there.
The Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State, Aghole Abeh, said the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, also ordered the police air wing to commence aerial surveillance of the area.
Mr. Breunig is the leader of a team from the University of Frankfurt, Germany, working in Nigeria in collaboration with the National Commission for Museum and Monuments and other institutions on the relics of Nok culture in Nigeria.
Kagarko palace sources said two other German women who are members of the team were spared by the gunmen.
They were later escorted by security back to Abuja after a brief meeting with Emir of Kagarko.
Another witness, Sani Aliyu, from Jenjela village, who was part of the team working in collaboration with Germans, said the incident happened after they resumed work at the site at the village.
He said they had started working when five gunmen appeared from the bush and ordered them to lie down.
“They started coming one after the other, the first two with machetes then others with heavy guns,” Mr. Aliyu said.
“There were many people at the site who were working so they ordered us to lie facing down and shot into the air in order to scare us.
“It was at that point that they asked the professor and his associate to follow them and they led them to the other side of the road; made them cross the road to the other side from where we were and began to lead them further into the bush,” he said.
Mr. Aliyu said at that point they were able to get up and witness what was going on.
He said a member of the team, a hunter, whose phone had been snatched by the kidnappers, asked others to go after the attackers.
“But only one of us followed him and the two men crossed the road chasing after the kidnappers,” he said. “When they realised that the two men and many other locals joined in their pursuit, they turned and opened fire killing the hunter and the other man.”
Kaduna police spokesperson, Aliyu Usman, told PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday said special operatives had been deployed to rescue them.
“So far, there has been no ransom demand or contact from the abductors,” Mr Usman, an assistant superintendent of police, said. “Unfortunately the victims did not go to site with the policemen attached to them for security,” he added.