Eleven of the 25 worshipers kidnapped when their church was stormed in northwestern Nigeria on Sunday have been released, a religious official told AFP on Wednesday.
On Sunday, gunmen raided Bege Baptist Church in Kaduna State’s Chikun area, abducting 40 individuals. Fifteen people escaped, leaving 25 people in the hands of the kidnappers.
“Today there are 14 people still being held by the kidnappers, while they released 11,” said Reverend Joseph Hayab, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State.
“They abandoned (in the bush) or freed those they found difficult to manage because of health problems, fatigue, or their age,” he said.
Like this exhausted woman, believed to be dead, whom the kidnappers abandoned in the bush with her baby, and who finally regained consciousness and managed to reach her village, he added.
“It is not the number of hostages that counts for them, because even one will allow them to have a ransom in exchange”, advanced the religious leader.
This massive attack is the latest in a series in Nigeria where insecurity will be one of the main challenges for new President Bola Tinubu who is due to take office at the end of the month.
Kidnappings are on the rise in northern and central Nigeria. The hostages are held in camps hidden in huge woodlands, awaiting payment of a ransom, a lucrative industry. Abductions can also be a source of contention between opposing communities.
Last month, gunmen killed 33 people in a village in Kaduna state as part of a conflict between herding and farming communities vying for water and pasture.