The incident comes a month after a train service in the north resumed, which was shut down after an attack in March 2022.

Attackers armed with assault rifles kidnapped 32 people at a train station in Edo state, southern Nigeria, the governor’s office said.

Police said in a statement on Sunday that armed herdsmen attacked Tom Ikimi station at 4:00 p.m. (1500 GMT) as passengers waited for a train to Warri, an oil hub in nearby Delta state. The station is located about 111 km (69 mi) northeast of the state capital, Benin City, and close to the Anambra State border.

Some people at the station were shot in the attack, police said.

The attack is the latest example of growing insecurity that has spread to almost every corner of Africa’s most populous country, challenging the government ahead of February’s presidential election.

Edo State Information Commissioner Chris Osa Nehikhare said one of the 32 people captured by the kidnappers managed to escape.

“Right now, security personnel made up of military and police officers, as well as men from the vigilante and hunter network, are intensifying search and rescue operations in a reasonable radius to rescue kidnapping victims,” ​​he said. “We are confident that the other victims will be rescued in the next few hours.”

The Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) had closed the station until further notice and the federal Ministry of Transport called the hijackings “absolutely barbaric”.

In December, the NRC reopened a rail service linking the capital Abuja with the northern state of Kaduna, months after attackers blew up the tracks, kidnapping more than 150 passengers and killing six people.

The last hostage taken in that March attack was not released until October.

Insecurity is on the rise in parts of Nigeria, with Boko Haram and its ISIL-affiliated subsidiaries (ISIS) in the northeast, banditry in the northwest, separatists in the southeast and clashes between farmers and herders in the central states.