Gunmen invade church, abduct pastor, many worshippers in Niger

At least eight worshippers, including a pastor, were on Sunday abducted from a Baptist church in Gidigori in Rafi Local government Area of Niger State.

Residents said the incident occurred after the Sunday morning service of the church at about 11 a.m.

The Secretary to the State Government, Ahmad Matane, confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES but said there was no information yet regarding the identities of the victims.

But a resident of the village said that the Sunday service was over but the pastor and some church officials were having a meeting when the gunmen invaded and whisked them away.

The source said the gunmen specifically targeted the church on the outskirts of Gidigori and did not bother to enter the town during the operation.

The incident has caused panic among residents with many now living in fear, the source added.

Gidigori is part of the larger troubled areas bordering the restive Birnin Gwari Local Government in Kaduna and Zamfara State.

Officials in Niger said over 151, 380 people, mostly peasant farmers, were displaced in the state by the activities of bandits in the last two years.

The displaced persons were registered in 13 local government areas of the state, with Rafi council area topping the chart with 28,987 displaced persons.

Attacks on vulnerable peasant communities have continued even after President Muhammadu Buhari directed the military to respond robustly to killings and kidnappings by bandits in Niger State. (PREMIUM TIMES)