Four nuns kidnapped by gunmen in Nigeria

Gunmen abducted four Catholic nuns in Imo state, in southeastern Nigeria, where kidnappings for ransom are rife, police said on Monday.
“Four Catholic sisters were kidnapped,” Imo police spokesman Michael Abattam said. Abattam said the nuns were abducted on Sunday near the town of Okigwe on their way to mass. “We are on the trail of the kidnappers in order to free the victims,” he added.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Kidnappings are common in Africa’s most populous country, which has been hit by a severe economic crisis and is plagued by widespread crime. While some hostages are killed, most are released after payment of a ransom.
In recent months, the clergy has been increasingly targeted by criminals, not for religious or ideological reasons, but rather because the Church is perceived to have the capacity to mobilize the faithful to pay ransoms.
South-eastern Nigeria is also experiencing an upsurge in violence attributed to the Independent Movement for the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (Ipob). The Ipob, which seeks the rebirth of a separate state for the Igbo ethnic group, has repeatedly denied responsibility for the violence in the region.