YENAGOA, NIGERIA, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Men armed with AK-47 rifles abducted more than 30 people from a railway station in Nigeria’s southern Edo state, the governor’s office said on Sunday.
The attack is the latest example of growing insecurity that has spread to almost every corner of Africa’s most populous country, posing a challenge to the government ahead of February’s presidential election.
Police said in a statement that armed herders attacked Tom Ikimi railway station at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) as passengers waited for a train to Warri, an oil hub in neighboring Delta state. The station is approximately 111 km northeast of the state capital, Benin City, and close to the border with Anambra State.
Some people at the station were shot in the attack, police said.
Edo State Information Commissioner Chris Osa Nehikhare said the kidnappers abducted 32 people, although one had already escaped.
“At this time, security personnel consisting of military and police as well as men from the self-defense network and hunters are intensifying search and rescue operations within a reasonable radius to rescue the victims of kidnappings,” he said. he declared. “We are confident that the other victims will be rescued within the next few hours.”
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had closed the station until further notice and the Federal Ministry of Transport called the kidnappings “totally barbaric”.
The NRC reopened a rail service linking the capital Abuja to northern Kaduna state last month, months after gunmen blew up tracks, abducted dozens of passengers and killed six people.
The last hostage taken in that March attack was not freed until October.
Insecurity is rampant across Nigeria, with Islamist insurgencies in the northeast, banditry in the northwest, separatists in the southeast and clashes between farmers and herders in the central states.
Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja and Garba Muhammad in Kaduna; Editing by David Holmes
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