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Four women abducted from Baptist Church service in Nigeria

One person was killed, another injured and four women kidnapped, after heavily armed men, of Fulani ethnicity, attacked a church service in Chikun Local Government Area (LGA) in southern Kaduna state.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide's (CSW) sources, Zacharia Dogon Yaro, a community extension health worker at the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, was killed in Sunday's attack at Haske Baptist Church in Manini village. The gunmen also abducted Charity Musa, Rose Zacharia, Alheri Bala and Liatu Zakka, a widow whose husband was murdered in an earlier attack.
Kaduna is increasingly becoming the epicentre of kidnapping and banditry activity in Nigeria. Despite being the headquarters of 11 military installations, Kaduna state has become an epicentre of kidnapping, with levels of insecurity almost matching those in the north east, according to CSW.

A CSW source said: "The kidnappers are expanding their activities, particularly in the rural areas.  We are like prisoners. We can hardly step out of the city.  Once you're on the road your heart is in your mouth until you reach your destination."

Two days earlier, the bodies of three students who had been seized by armed men of Fulani origin during a 20 April attack on Greenfield University, a private institution situated close to the Kaduna-Abuja highway in Chikun LGA, were found in Kwanan Bature village, close to the university.  

Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna, Precious Nwakacha and Abubakar Sadiq Yusuf Mu'azu Sanga were among twenty students and three members of staff abducted in the attack, in which one staff member was killed.  

Their assailants had threatened to murder three students each day if their demand for N800 million (approximately £1.5 million) was not met. They had reportedly rejected an offer of N15 million (approximately £28,000).

In another attack, on the 23 April, gunmen targeted Unguwan Mission, Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru LGA, kidnapping eight people, including a Seventh Day Adventist church leader. They have demanded N30 million (around £57,000) for their release.

In response to the spate of abductions, the Governor of Kaduna has called for citizens to unite against "the forces of darkness challenging national security and the very existence of the Nigerian state," and reiterated his recent decision to no longer pay ransoms, adding that "nobody living in the forest is innocent, and we must kill them all."  

CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said in a statement: "We extend our deepest condolences to the families of Mr Dogon Yaro, Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna, Precious Nwakacha and Abubakar Sadiq Yusuf Mu'azu Sanga.  Tragically, the lives of ordinary Nigerians have been commoditised by armed groups which abduct and brutalise them on an almost daily basis. The alarm has been raised repeatedly with regard to the highly concerning situation in Kaduna state for several years, yet the state government, federal authorities and members of the international community still appear reluctant to make any meaningful interventions. 

"We call once again on Nigeria to address the kidnapping crisis as a matter of urgency, ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice. We also urge the international community to hold Nigeria to account, ensuring that the government concentrates its efforts on protecting vulnerable citizens, rather than targeting innocent individuals such as the Atyap leaders.  Their continuing detention on questionable charges while perpetrators of violence that indeed threatens "the very existence of the Nigerian state," enjoy apparent impunity gives the unfortunate impression that wellbeing of livestock is being prioritised over the welfare of Nigerian citizens," he said.

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