Ransom demand after gunmen seize Nigeria schoolchildren

BBC

Gunman have seized 15 children who were on their way to their international school in the south-eastern Nigerian state of Abia, say police.   “The abductors have contacted [the owner of the private school] and asked for 20 million naira [$130,000; £81,500],” police spokesman Geofrey Ogbonna told AFP news agency.  The nationalities of the children – who are thought to be under 10 years old – have not been confirmed.

The kidnap happened on Monday.

In recent years, gunmen in the oil-rich Niger Delta have been kidnapping prominent Nigerians, and their relatives, rather than foreign oil workers, whose security has been improved.

There has been a recent spate of kidnappings for ransom in Abia, which is on the fringes of the Niger Delta.   Most hostages are released unharmed after a ransom is paid.

Search underway

The children were on their way to the Abayi International School in the state’s commercial capital, Aba, when a vehicle blocked the path of their school bus, Mr Obbonna said.  They were then taken away by a group of armed men, whose identity is unknown.

“We are making efforts to locate where they are held so as to free them,” Mr Ogbonna said.   A federal police spokesman in the capital Abuja, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said officers and investigators were on their way to the state to look into Monday’s attack, reported AP news agency.

Nigeria’s parliament is considering a bill which would impose the death penalty on convicted kidnappers in a bid to deter would-be hostage-takers.