Girls who were previously kidnapped from a school in western Nigeria (Reuters)

Armed men kidnapped at least 35 women who were returning from a wedding in Katsina State, northwestern Nigeria, in the largest mass kidnapping in a series of operations witnessed in the country, according to security sources reported on Monday.

Police spokesman Abubakar Aliyu said that people suspected of being armed bandits ambushed and kidnapped approximately 35 women on their way back from a wedding in the Sabwa area on Thursday night last Friday.

The Commissioner of Internal Security in Katsina State, Naseer Muaz, indicated that the number of people who were kidnapped while accompanying the bride to her home may be higher, and it is likely that 53 people were kidnapped.

He added that it is very dangerous for a convoy of women carrying a bride to travel in the dark in an area exposed to bandits, and added that the gunmen seized the opportunity and kidnapped them.

The police are still searching for the kidnapped women.

Kidnapping for ransom is a major problem in Nigeria, with gangs carrying out kidnappings on highways or in homes and schools.

These gangs are active from bases in the forests of the northwestern and central states of the country.

Kidnappings became a severe problem in Nigeria at the beginning of the third millennium, but experts attribute the recent increase in these incidents to the economic crisis that prompted groups to engage in criminal acts to earn money.

Source: French