Nigeria: Catholic priest abducted by gunmen

 A Catholic priest was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in the oil-rich Niger Delta region in southern Nigeria on Sunday.

Father Pius Kii was abducted outside his Christ the King Parish in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, according to the News Agency of Nigeria. A police spokesman confirmed the kidnapping, but said that the circumstances remain unclear.

According to the Nigerian press, the diocese of Port Harcourt strongly condemned the kidnapping of the priest as a "hateful act. Police said that investigations are under way and that no group has yet claimed the abduction. Many gangs in the Niger Delta make money from kidnapping, extortion and gun-running.

The Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said the kidnappers had made a "grave mistake".

"If they can kidnap a priest, then really no-one is safe," Archbishop Onaiyekan said, according to the BBC. "They should realise they have made a grave mistake, fear God and release him." Father Kii is a member of the Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the most visible militant group in the Niger Delta, said the kidnap was "sacrilege and abomination".

"We will assist in the search as many of our fighters are Catholics and deeply touched by this development," MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in an e-mail to the BBC.

The group has been kidnapping oil workers since 2006. In the past they have "rescued" non-oil worker hostages from other gangs. Violence has cut oil production in the Niger Delta by about a fifth.

Source: CISA

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