Gunmen abducted 16 people from a passenger bus near southern Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt on Monday, An eye witnesses Tamuno George said. “They blocked the road and opened fire on the bus as it approached the Emohua area, thereby forcing the driver to a stop.”
A staff member of the company which operated the bus said the gunmen then marched the passengers into the bush. “The hoodlums accosted the bus…. ordered the passengers and driver out of the vehicle and marched them into the bush,” the worker, who did not want to be identified, Police in Rivers state confirmed the incident, adding that a manhunt had been launched for the gunmen. “The spokeswoman Nnamdi Omoni of the command said they are currently analyzing the information received from witnesses over the incident and concerted efforts are already on to apprehend the hoodlums.” Kidnapping for ransom used to be common in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, where criminal gangs singled out the wealthy and expatriate workers in targeted or opportunistic attacks. But it has gradually spread across the country as its oil-dependent economy has imploded, to the extent that the Control Risks consultancy has said kidnapping for ransom is now “entrenched” countrywide. Nnamdi Obasi, senior Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group, said poverty had made “anybody” a target and had led to a rise in “spontaneous” kidnappings. Most victims are usually released unhurt after ransom money is paid.