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Nigeria: Gunmen storm Sunday church service, abduct 25 in Kaduna

A woman wailing for the abducted from a church in north west Nigeria May 8 2023   -  
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Gunmen attacked a Baptist church in northwest Nigeria, kidnapping 25 worshippers from a Sunday service, a senior church leader said on Monday.

The attack was the latest mass abduction in Nigeria, where insecurity is one of the top challenges facing incoming president Bola Tinubu who takes office at the end of the month.

Attackers on Sunday burst into the Bege Baptist Church in Chikun area of Kaduna State, initially abducting 40 people, though 15 later managed to get away, Reverend Joseph Hayab, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State, told AFP.

"Twenty five of them are still with them," Hayab said, referring to the gunmen.

A Kaduna police spokesman confirmed Sunday's attack but could not immediately give any details.

Heavily armed gangs known locally as bandits frequently carry out mass abductions for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria, holding their captives in camps hidden in vast forest that stretch across the region.

Abductions for ransom and intercommunal attacks have been on the rise again after a lull during elections in February and March for the presidency and governorship posts.

Gunmen killed 33 people in an attack on a farming village in Kaduna last month, part of intercommunal violence between ethnic Fulani herders and pastoral farmers.

Earlier in the month, ten school children were also kidnapped in central Kaduna, though eight later managed to escape two weeks after their abduction.

Catholic priests are also targetted for kidnappings.

Last year, gunmen opened fire on a Catholic church in southwest Ondo state, killing at least 40 people in a rare attack an area usually considered safer.

As well as battling criminal gangs, Nigeria's armed forces are also fighting a 14-year-long jihadist conflict in the northeast of the country and simmering separatist tensions in the southeast.

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