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Chinese worker, 5 others killed in Nigeria attacks

Saturday, October 20, 2012    

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — A Chinese construction worker has been killed in a besieged city in Nigeria's north-east, an official said yesterday, exacerbating security concerns for foreign workers in Nigeria's violence-wracked northeast, while an overnight raid in a nearby city left five others dead and several schools razed to the ground.

Gunmen shot the Chinese builder yesterday morning on a main road that had been undergoing reconstruction in the city of Maiduguri, said the Borno State ministry of works spokesman Babakura Bukar.

He said it was not immediately clear if the Chinese national had survived the bullet wound, but a hospital source that requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to press said that the hospital received the dead body of a Chinese man at about noon yesterday.

An Associated Press reporter who went to the construction site on Lagos Street said all workers, Chinese and Nigerian, had deserted it yesterday afternoon. With the road partly excavated, there remained only a narrow lane for motorists to use. Lagos Street is the main link to the busy neighbourhood that houses the state's university.

Bukar could not say when or if the construction workers would return and the Chinese embassy could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday.

The incident comes about two weeks after a Chinese cook for another construction company was shot dead while shopping at a food market in a town outside Maiduguri.

Several Chinese construction companies operate in Nigeria. In Borno state, most, if not all, government-funded projects are being undertaken by Chinese companies.

The region is largely rural but, with a growing and increasingly urbanised population, there has been a greater need for basic infrastructure, such as roads and offices. For years, foreigners including Chinese, Lebanese, Indians, and others, have run businesses or worked in construction in Nigeria's once-peaceful arid north as well as its central plains.

In recent years, however, a locally focused Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has engaged in a deadly campaign that has left more than 680 dead this year alone across northern Nigeria, accorded to an Associated Press count.

The group has said it seeks the strict implementation of Islamic Shariah law in a West African nation evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. As the government struggles to contain the violence, the group continues to constrict and threaten millions of people's lives, especially in Maiduguri, Boko Haram's spiritual home, and surrounding areas.

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