Pastor’s Daughter Kidnapped by Islamic Militants in Niger Has Been Rescued

Street scene in Zinder, Niger’s second biggest town, where thousands of people fled to after Boko Haram first attacked Diffa in February 2015. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

The teenage daughter of a pastor was kidnapped on 16 October in Diffa, south-eastern Niger, in what appears to be the first targeted kidnapping of a Christian by Boko Haram-affiliated militants in the West African nation.

Aphodiya Garba Maida, 17, daughter of a pastor with the EERN (Église Évangélique de la République du Niger), was on her way to school when she was kidnapped by three women and three men. She was able to use her mobile phone to send a message, saying that she is being held in an unknown location.

The kidnappers are likely affiliated with the Islamist group Boko Haram and security forces in Diffa have been alerted.

UPDATE (18 October): The pastor’s daughter was found on 17 October in a village 10km from Diffa. She has now returned to Diffa, where she is being looked after by the authorities.

The Diffa area borders Nigeria to the south and Chad to the east, and has seen an upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram in recent months. In July, militants kidnapped 30-40 women and children and slit the throats of nine other people in the village of Ngalewa, while a month earlier two female suicide bombers attacked a UNHCR camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kablewa.

In February 2015, Boko Haram launched its first attack on Niger territory, targeting Diffa and the nearby town of Bosso, causing thousands to flee. Following the violence several NGOs had to suspend operations and all the churches in the region were closed.

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SOURCE: World Watch Monitor