American Missionary Kidnapped in Nigeria; Ransom Demanded

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An American missionary in Nigeria has been kidnapped in what authorities call a “purely criminal” act.

An undated file photo shows US missionary, Reverend Phyllis Sortor, 87, of the Free Methodist Church, who was kidnapped on February 24, 2015 by unknown gunmen in Nigeria. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

An undated file photo shows US missionary, Reverend Phyllis Sortor, of the Free Methodist Church, who was kidnapped on February 24, 2015 by unknown gunmen in Nigeria. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Kogi state Police Commissioner Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi says five men kidnapped the woman from her workplace and are demanding a ransom of 60 million Naira ($301,500).

The Free Methodist Church has identified the woman as the Rev. Phyllis Sortor, a missionary based at the Hope Academy compound in Kogi state.

Kogi state is located away from the areas where Boko Haram operates, making it likely that the kidnapping is not related to terrorism. But there is also the possibility that an offshoot group could have kidnapped Sortor, or that she might be sold to another group. Police have not said if they suspect a certain group or band of criminals.

Sortor was kidnapped on Monday, Ogunjemilusi said.

The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria and the FBI have been notified of the incident, the Free Methodist Church said.

Sortor runs a nongovernmental organization that educates nomadic Fulani children, the police commissioner said.

According to her biography on the church’s website, Sortor is the financial administrator of Hope Academy.

A map of Kogi, Nigeria. (Credit: CNN)

A map of Kogi, Nigeria. (Credit: CNN)

“A special friendship with a clan of nomadic Fulani has given Phyllis the opportunity to open additional schools for Fulani children and their parents,” the website says.

The commissioner said five men scaled the wall of the school where Sortor’s office is and “whisked her away,” jumping back over the wall and fleeing to the nearby mountains.

Two of the men were masked, and they fired shots into the air to scare people away during the kidnapping, Ogunjemilusi said.

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