Islamic State claims Nigerian aid workers kidnap

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Islamic State’s West Africa branch claimed responsibility for kidnapping six aid workers in north-east Nigeria.

International aid agency Action Against Hunger said a staff member and five others kidnapped in Nigeria last week appeared in a video released on Wednesday and were “apparently in a good condition of health”.

Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), which split from Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram in 2016, claimed responsibility for the kidnap in a tweet published by the SITE monitoring group.

The group carried out attacks in the north-east over the last few months, including on military bases. It killed a kidnapped aid worker nine months ago.

Action Against Hunger said in a statement the people were abducted last week near Damasak.

“Action Against Hunger strongly requests our staff member and her companions are released,” said the agency.

The video was published by The Cable, a Nigerian news organisation, and showed a woman who identifies herself as “Grace”. Five men sit around her, some with heads bowed. Behind them is a sheet with the logo of the United Nations refugee agency.

“We were caught by this army called the Calipha,” she said, before asking the Nigerian government and Action Against Hunger secure their release. “We don’t know where we are.”

Separately, the Nigerian presidency said in a statement government was negotiating the release of the kidnapped aid workers.

A source told Reuters a driver was killed during the kidnap and all six abductees were Nigerians.