Nigerian kidnappers demand $200,000 for German scientists

KADUNA, Nigeria — Kidnappers are demanding a ransom of 60 million naira (about $200,000) for a German archaeologist and his associate abducted this week from a northern Nigerian village, a worker at the excavation site said. Two villagers were shot and killed in the kidnapping, police confirmed Friday.

The worker said he heard a man make the demand in a telephone call Thursday to the site's supervisor. The caller warned him not to involve police or security forces, said the worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Police special forces and a special investigative team for kidnappings have been searching around the village of Jenjela in the state of Kaduna, where gunmen on Wednesday abducted Professor Peter Breunig and his associate, Johannes Behringer, and walked with them into the bush.

Breunig, 65, and Behringer, who is in his 20s, are part of a four-person team from Frankfurt's Goethe University collaborating with the Nigeria's National Commission for Museum and Monuments to recover relics of the Nok culture. The early Iron Age people are considered the earliest ancient civilization of the region that is now Nigeria, famous for their terracotta sculptures.

Two villagers accompanying the Germans were shot and killed in the kidnapping, police spokesman Aliyu Usman confirmed Friday, adding that police were not aware of any ransom demand.

The kidnappers told police to keep away from them or "they will kill the German archaeologists," said Shehu Musa Tafa, chairman of the Kagarko local government area.

Kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria, but victims usually are freed unharmed after a ransom is paid.

Nigeria's acting President Yemi Osinbajo summoned the federal police chief for a briefing Thursday on efforts to find the kidnap victims, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.

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Faul reported from Johannesburg. AP videographer Lekan Oyekanmi in Jenjela contributed to this story.

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