Gunmen abducted eight children and two adults from an orphanage in Nigeria’s federal capital, Abuja, a spokesman for the orphanage told CNN.
The kidnappers have threatened to “waste” the children if the board fails to pay a ransom of 10 million naira ($26,230), said board member Alaje Odewu.
They broke into the orphanage, which housed 17 minors, early Saturday.
“(They were) wielding their rifles at the kids, they selected the older ones and took them away along with their matron who was carrying a less than 1-year-old baby and another adult worker,” said Odewu.
The matron was subsequently released along with the baby and another girl.
When the abductors called to demand the ransom, they insulted the board for not paying immediately. The orphanage told the abductors it does not have the money and is asking for people to pray for the safe return of the children.
“They told me they knew that the kids were orphans,” he said. “I feel so sad that because these are just little innocent kids; the oldest among them is just 16 years old and most of the others are between the ages of 5 and 6,” said Odewu.
The culprits have not yet been identified, but the police are on their trail, he said, adding that kidnappings like this one are “not new in the community.”
Hundreds of students were abducted in December by gunmen in Katsina State in northwestern Nigeria. They were missing for nearly a week before the Nigerian military rescued them from bandits masquerading as the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram.
While kidnapping for ransom by criminal elements in Katsina State have seen a disturbing increase, an abduction on this scale has not been reported previously. It recalls the kidnapping of 276 girls from Chibok in 2014. More than 100 of those girls never returned home.