Heavily armed men attacked a mine in central Nigeria on Wednesday, killing security staff and kidnapping workers, including at least four Chinese, local authorities said Thursday.
Gangs of heavily armed criminals, the so-called bandits, have been terrorizing central and north-western Nigeria for years, committing animal theft, looting, kidnapping for ransom and murder. Their attacks have been directed and intensified of late.
The bandits – “bad elements”, or “bandit gangs” – also target facilities such as mines and mines, where they kidnap mainly foreign workers in order to extract larger ransoms.
On Wednesday afternoon, gunmen attacked a mine in Ajata Aboki village, in Siroro district, in the eastern part of Niger state, said a local security official, Emmanuel Omar.
“Workers at the facility, among them four Chinese nationals, were kidnapped,” he added, clarifying that the exact number of hostages remains to be ascertained.
Security guards clashed with the attackers and there were casualties on both sides, but their number also remains to be ascertained, according to authorities.
They did not specify which raw material was mined at the specific facility, nor did they make public the name of the company that has taken over its operation.
Waves of violence are sweeping Africa’s most populous country: jihadist activity in the northeast, thugs in the northwest and central are intensifying, while presidential elections are less than a year away.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who continues to face criticism for his inability to resolve the insecurity problem in the country, will complete his second term in February 2023.
According to the non-governmental organization ACLED, gang violence is escalating: they killed more than 2,600 civilians in 2021, a number increased by 250% compared to 2020.
These gangs operate with the sole motive of profit, their actions have no ideological overtones, and they often release hostages after ransoms are paid. However, the infiltration of jihadists into their ranks worries analysts.