Gunmen have attacked a train station in southern Nigeria, kidnapping around 30 people and wounding others, police and officials said, nearly a year after a bomb assault on a train travelling from the capital.
Police said in a statement to media on Monday that the gunmen opened fire before abducting passengers who were waiting for a train in Edo state on Saturday night.
Edo is 360 km (223 miles) east of the major city of Lagos.
Edo State Information Commissioner Chris Nehikhare told AFP news agency that 32 people had been abducted.
But one person managed to escape, lowering the toll to 31, he said, as police and local hunters tracked the remaining captives.
“We have the area cordoned off. We know the forests better than them,” said Nehikhare.
In a separate interview with Reuters news agency, he said that authorities are confident that the other victims will be rescued soon.
“At the moment, security personnel made up of the military and the police as well as men of the vigilante network and hunters are intensifying search and rescue operations in a reasonable radius to rescue the kidnap victims,” he said.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had closed the station until further notice and the federal transportation ministry called the kidnappings “utterly barbaric”.
Country’s most high-profile attack in the last year
Kidnapping for ransom is a major problem in Nigeria where gunmen have repeatedly attacked and abducted people in large groups, but mostly in the northwestern and central states.
In one of the country’s most high-profile attacks in March last year, gunmen with explosives blew up the tracks and assaulted a train travelling from the capital Abuja to the northwestern city of Kaduna.
Eight people were killed, and dozens more were kidnapped. The train service only resumed eight months later after the final hostages were released.
President Muhammadu Buhari is set to step down after an election next month, and insecurity will be a major challenge for whoever replaces the former army commander.
The military is battling a 13-year-long armed insurgency in the northeast, bandit militias in the northwest, and separatist tensions in the country’s southeast.