Militants hit a mine central Nigeria has killed several security personnel and kidnapped four Chinese citizens and other workers, a national security official said Thursday.
Kidnapping for ransom has become a serious problem in the northwest and central part of Nigeria, where well-armed criminal gangs known as gangsters are kidnapping communities, schools and businesses.
Chinese employees working in mines and large infrastructure projects in remote areas are often the victims of abductions and are usually released after a short time in captivity.
Militants attacked a mine in the village of Ajata Aboki in the Siroro district of Niger state on Wednesday afternoon, local security commissioner Emmanuel Oumar said in a statement.
“It is reported that a number of workers at the mine, including four Chinese nationals, have been abducted,” the statement said.
It is also reported that some of the attackers were killed.
“Security forces have mobilized reinforcements to search for the remaining terrorists.”
Umar blamed “armed bandits/terrorists” for the attack. Nigeria recently designated gangs operating in the northwest as terrorist groups to give the military more flexibility in operations against them.
The statement did not give the number of victims, but said the state government expressed its sympathy to the security services and the families of the “dead.”
He did not name the mining business or say what material is being mined.
Militia attacks in Nigeria devastate parts of the country. Daily newspaper headlines describe militants raiding villages, pillaging rural communities and kidnapping residents.
Militia violence has escalated, with several thousand killed each year, hundreds abducted and almost a million displaced by attacks and communal clashes in the region.
Nigeria’s overburdened security forces are also waging a stubborn 13-year conflict against jihadists in the country’s northeast, where 40,000 people have been killed and another 2.2 million displaced since 2009.