Armed group abducts 32 people from southern Nigeria train station

Attackers armed with assault rifles have abducted 32 people from a railway station in Nigeria’s southern Edo state, the governor’s office said.

Police said in a statement on Sunday that armed herdsmen attacked Tom Ikimi station at 4pm (15:00 GMT) as passengers waited for a train to Warri, an oil hub in nearby Delta state. The station is some 111km (69 miles) northeast of state capital Benin City and close to the border with Anambra state.

Some people at the station were shot in the attack, police said.

The attack is the latest example of the growing insecurity that has spread to nearly every corner of Africa’s most populous country, posing a challenge to the government ahead of the February presidential election.

Edo state information commissioner Chris Osa Nehikhare said one of the 32 people taken by the kidnappers managed to escape.

“At the moment, security personnel made up of the military and the police as well as men of the vigilante network and hunters are intensifying search and rescue operations in a reasonable radius to rescue the kidnap victims,” he said. “We are confident that the other victims will be rescued in the coming hours.”

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had closed the station until further notice and the federal transport ministry called the kidnappings “utterly barbaric”.

In December, the NRC reopened a rail service linking the capital, Abuja, with northern Kaduna state, months after attackers blew up the tracks, kidnapped more than 150 passengers and killed six people.

The last hostage taken in that March attack was not freed until October.

Insecurity is on the rise across parts of Nigeria, with Boko Haram and its ISIL (ISIS)-affiliated offshoots in the northeast, banditry in the northwest, separatists in the southeast and farmer-herdsmen clashes in the central states.

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