22nd March, 2012
Al-Qaeda’s north Africa branch said Wednesday it was holding a German engineer kidnapped in Nigeria two months ago, and that it wanted to swap him for a jailed Muslim woman, a private news agency in Mauritania said.
“We inform you that your compatriot Edgar Fritz Raupach is a prisoner of fighters from AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb),” the group said in a statement published by the ANI agency, demanding the release of a woman who it said had converted to Islam.
The woman, Felis Lowitz, whose Muslim name was given as Um Seiv Al-Islam-Al-Ansariya, was said to be detained in Germany where she was being “tortured”.
A video obtained by ANI and seen by AFP showed Raupach, his hands tied behind his back, surrounded by masked gunmen.
In the video he called on his “parents, friends and German public opinion” to convince Berlin to “bring an end to the torture of our Muslim sister”, adding that only her liberation will save his life.
AQIM warned that any attempt to rescue Raupach will lead to his death, as happened in the case of Italian engineer Franco Lamolinara and British colleague Chris McManus, killed earlier this month during a failed rescue bid by Nigerian forces.
Raupach, ANI said, is an engineer who was kidnapped in northern Nigeria on January 25.
Germany has confirmed one of its nationals has been kidnapped in northern Nigeria, and the German construction company Bilfinger Berger has said he is one of their employees.