Gunmen ‘kidnap four’ at funeral near Nigeria oil city

Gunmen burst into a burial vigil outside Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt, firing shots and kidnapping four people, police spokesman Akin Fakorede said on Sunday.

“The incident occurred at 01:00 am on Saturday in Ihuaba community (outside Port Harcourt, capital of southern Rivers State) during a vigil for a burial. The gunmen shot sporadically and made away with four men”, he said.

“Police have launched a manhunt for the kidnappers,” said Fakorede.

Kidnappings and attacks on oil installations are rife in the oil-rich Niger Delta where Rivers State is located.

The Nigerian military on Saturday warned armed gangs in the region that militants’ camps would no longer be tolerated, with many of them already located and destroyed in recent weeks.

“These people are criminals and will be treated as such,” chief of defence staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petirin, said in a statement. Their camps in Niger Delta creeks “will no longer be tolerated,” he said.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has carried out scores of attacks in the region in recent years.

It claimed responsibility for twin car bombings on independence day October 1 that killed at least 12 people, the first such attack in the capital Abuja.

The group claims to be fighting on behalf of local people in the deeply impoverished Niger Delta, but it has also been seen as an umbrella organisation for criminal gangs.