KANO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Gunmen abducted a Lebanese national in north Nigeria's main city of Kano, police said, in an area plagued by Islamist militant groups known for protracted and often deadly kidnappings.
The assailants snatched Hassan Zein from the Sharada industrial area of Kano on Monday morning, police spokesman for the city Musa Magaji Majiya said, adding that patrol teams and checkpoints had been alerted to try to track them down.
Kano is one of many states infiltrated by Boko Haram, a violent Islamist group seen as the main security threat in Africa's top oil producer. It is also believed to be the headquarters of Ansaru, a smaller jihadist outfit that specialises in kidnapping and often killing foreigners.
It was not clear whether it was either of these groups or just one of many criminal gangs operating in northern Nigeria.
Ansaru killed a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese construction workers that were abducted in northern Nigeria's Bauchi state in February.
It was believed to be behind the kidnapping of a German engineer in Kano in January last year who was killed by his captors the following May when security forces raided a house in which he was being held.
Authorities also think it, or a precursor group, may have been behind the kidnapping and killing a British and Italian hostage in the northwestern city of Sokoto last year during a bungled attempt to rescue them by UK and Nigerian forces. (Reporting by Ibrahim Shuaibu; Editing by Tim Cocks and David Evans)