Wednesday, 29 September 2010

More kidnapped in Nigeria

Fifteen school children have been kidnapped from Nigeria's south-eastern town of Aba on Monday, 27th September. Local police say the kidnappers, reported to have been heavily armed, have demanded $130,000 in ransom for their release.

Most local amenities have refused to open for business fearing further attacks from gang leaders infamous for demanding large ransoms. There has been a noted increase in kidnappings within Abia state, which rests on the fringes of Niger Delta. In the past the gangs often targeted foreign oil workers but recently due to improved security measures, the gangs have been kidnapping prominent Nigerians and their relatives.

The children were on board a school but on their way to Abayi International School in Aba, when a vehicle blocked the path of the bus. Police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna said the children, of nursery and primary school age, came from wealthy Nigerian families, and the police was intensifying its efforts to find their whereabouts.

Speaking about the latest kidnapping President Goodluck Jonathan described it as "callous and cruel".

"President Jonathan has ordered the inspector general of police and heads of other security agencies to take all necessary steps to rescue the abducted children and return them safely to their parents," said Goodluck's spokesman Ima Niboro.

Kidnappings in the Niger Delta region are often carried out by criminal gangs seeking ransom, but also by militant groups demanding a fairer distribution of oil wealth across Nigeria. An amnesty that came into effect in the Delta last year has reduced unrest in the region – although five French oil workers were abducted in an attack on an offshore drilling ship just last week.

The Nigerian parliament is currently reviewing a bill which would impose the death penalty on convicted kidnappers.

Source: BBC News

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

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