Nigeria: four nuns kidnapped by armed men

Gunmen abducted four Catholic nuns on Sunday in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria where kidnappings for ransom are common, police said on Monday.

"Four sisters from the Catholic Church have been kidnapped," Imo police spokesman Michael Abattam told AFP.

Mr Abattam claimed the nuns were abducted on Sunday near the town of Okigwe on their way to mass.

“We are on the trail of the kidnappers with a view to freeing the victims,” he added.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

Kidnappings are frequent in Africa's most populous country, hit by a serious economic crisis and grappling with near-generalized crime.

While some hostages are sometimes killed, most are released after payment of a ransom.

In recent months, the clergy have been increasingly targeted by criminals a priori not for religious or ideological reasons, but rather because the Church is perceived to have the ability to mobilize the faithful to pay the ransoms.

Southeast Nigeria is also experiencing an upsurge in violence blamed on the Independence Movement for the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (Ipob). The Ipob, which seeks to see the rebirth of a separate state for the Igbo ethnic group, has repeatedly denied responsibility for the violence in the region.

The proclamation of independence by the Republic of Biafra led to a 30-month civil war between 1967 and 1970. The conflict left more than a million dead, mostly Igbo, mostly from starvation and disease.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Picture : Emmanuel Ikwuegbu | Unsplash

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