Gunmen attacked a train station in southern Nigeria, kidnapping about 30 people and wounding others, before police managed to rescue several people, officials said on Monday.
Kidnapping for ransom is a major problem in Nigeria where gunmen known locally as bandits carry out mass abductions, mostly in the northwest, though violence has spilled over to other regions.
Gunmen opened fire on Saturday evening on the train station in Edo state, 360 km (223 miles) east of Lagos, before kidnapping people waiting for a train to southern Delta State, police said.
Edo State Information Commissioner Chris Nehikhare said 32 people had been abducted.
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One person managed to escape, lowering the toll to 31, and six more were rescued on Monday, as police and local hunters tracked the remaining captives.
“The six persons are: a 65-year-old man, a nursing mother with her baby, a six-year-old girl and two siblings; aged two and five years old,” he said in a statement.
“We are confident that the other victims will be rescued soon.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army commander who promised to make Nigeria safer, steps down after an election next month, and insecurity will be a major challenge for whoever replaces him.
Armed criminals have repeatedly targeted schools, communities and highways in northwest and central states, kidnapping dozens of people at a time and holding them in forest camps to negotiate ransoms.
In one of the country’s most high-profile attacks, in March last year, gunmen with explosives blew up the tracks and raided a train travelling from the capital Abuja to the northwestern city of Kaduna.
Eight people were killed and dozens more kidnapped and held for months. The train service only resumed eight months later after the final hostages were released.
The military is battling a 13-year-long jihadist insurgency in the northeast, bandit militias in the northwest and separatist tensions in the southeast.
In July last year, gunmen bombed their way into Kuje prison on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital Abuja, freeing hundreds of inmates in an attack claimed by Islamic State-allied jihadists.
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