LAGOS: Masked gunmen in central Nigeria kidnapped an American woman doing missionary work, with ransom the suspected motive for the attack, police told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila)
Kogi state police spokesman Sola Collins Adebayo said Phyllis Sortor “was whisked away at around 10 a.m. Monday.”
He said the attack took place in the Emiworo village where the missionary from the Free Methodist Church ran a community organization within the premises of a school linked to her church.
The kidnappers were “unknown gunmen [who]came into the school premises shooting sporadically to scare away people before taking [the hostage]away into the bush,” Adebayo said.
“We are hopeful of finding her. Our suspicion is that she was picked up for ransom,” the police spokesman said.
A statement on the Free Methodist Church’s website contained similar details.
“The US Embassy has been notified, and the State Department and the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] are working with local authorities to find and rescue her,” the statement attributed to Bishop David Kendall said.
“We are calling on the US church to join together in prayer for Phyllis’ safety and speedy release,” he added.
Media in Sortor’s native Washington state, on the US West Coast, reported that her stepson, Richard, attended a prayer service at Seattle Pacific University on Monday night.
“She believes in God, she’s doing God’s work,” he was quoted as saying, describing the abduction as “surreal, just surreal.”
Foreign nationals have often been kidnapped in Nigeria by local gangs who typically release hostages following a ransom payment.