Unknown gunmen have abducted four Catholic nuns on a highway in Nigeria’s oil-producing Imo state, in the latest sign of widespread insecurity making road travel unsafe.
The abduction, which happened on Sunday, was announced on Monday by the convent they belonged to.
Zita Ihedoro, secretary-general of Sisters of Jesus, the Saviour Generalate, said the four nuns were abducted while travelling from Rivers state to Imo, both in the southeast, for a thanksgiving mass on Sunday.
“We implore for intense prayer for their quick and safe release,” Ihedoro said in a statement.
In recent years, armed gangs have been kidnapping people, including priests, for ransom from villages and on highways mainly in the northwest in recent years. The practice has spread to other parts of the country, increasing insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation.
In July, two priests were abducted at a function in the northwestern state of Kaduna nearly two weeks after another priest was taken from his parish in the same state.
Across the northwest, Nigeria’s military has started an air offensive to eliminate the armed groups responsible for kidnapping citizens from villages and towns in the region.