Gunmen kidnap dozens after attacking churches in Nigeria

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A crucifix is seen on the wall during a Christmas mass at St. Patrick's Church in Nigeria. (Photo: Audu MARTE / AFP)
A crucifix is seen on the wall during a Christmas mass at St. Patrick's Church in Nigeria. (Photo: Audu MARTE / AFP)

Gunmen from a criminal gang kidnapped 36 people after attacking several villages and two churches in Nigeria's northwest Kaduna state, a local government official said on Monday.

Heavily armed gangs known locally as bandits are ravaging parts of northwest Nigeria and Sunday's attack came two weeks after gunmen killed 40 people in a raid on a church in the usually safer southwest of the country.

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Local security commissioner Samuel Aruwan told AFP on Monday that three dozen people were snatched by gunmen who ransacked three villages before storming the Maranatha Baptist Church and St Moses Catholic Church in Rubu in the Kajuru area of Kaduna state.

Three people were also killed in the raid, he said.

"We have established 36 people were kidnapped by the bandits who attacked the villages in Kajuru local government on Sunday," Aruwan said.

"Yesterday, they released two of the hostages, including a community chief. Thirty four people are now in the custody of the bandits."

In an earlier statement his office said gunmen stormed the villages on motorbikes and also looted shops.

No group has claimed the 5 June attack on a church in southwest Ondo State, but the government said it suspects Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) was behind the violence.

ISWAP operates mostly in the northeast of the country, where it is part of a 12-year long jihadist insurgency that has killed more than 40 000 people and displaced 2.2 million more.


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