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Unknown gunmen kidnapped at least 32 people in Nigeria’s southern Edo state this week, the latest incident of violence in the West African country and just a month before a general election in which security is a major campaign issue, the BBC reported Monday.
Authorities said attackers armed with automatic rifles abducted a number of staff members and passengers waiting at the station in Igueben over the weekend. Some who tried to flee were wounded.
Security forces, assisted by local hunters, have begun a search-and-rescue operation for the victims.
The Igueben station attack is the latest assault on the country’s railway service: Last month the Nigerian Railway Corporation reopened a rail service linking the capital of Abuja with northern Kaduna state, months after gunmen blew up the tracks, kidnapped dozens of passengers and killed six people, according to Reuters.
Edo state officials said many people had started using the train because the local roads had become “ no-go area, with huge ransoms being collected from families of (kidnap) victims.”
The weekend attack underscores Nigeria’s growing insecurity due to kidnappings for ransom, Islamist insurgencies and banditry in recent years.
Insecurity is a prominent campaign theme ahead of Nigeria’s general elections in February, which will determine President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.