Pastors taken hostage, One Found Dead & Two Freed

Rev. Iliya Anto, pastor and president of the United Church of Christ in Nigeria (HEKAN) in Kaduna, Nigeria, was recently found dead in a bush days after he was abducted. The two other pastors abducted along with him were earlier released.

Men armed with AK-47 rifles attacked a church campsite in Kaduna last March 21 and captured three pastors of the HEKAN who were preparing for an Easter retreat.

"We were working on the campsite in preparation for our forthcoming church conference when the kidnappers invaded the place and began shooting into the air," Rev. Jibrailu Wobiya, who escaped with other church members said, as quoted by the Morning Star News.

Rev. Anto was said to have been initially released due to poor health, and the two other men, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Dziggau and Rev. Yakubu Dzarma, remained in captivity. The kidnappers used Anto's mobile and demanded a ransom of 100 million naira, which is equivalent to $500,000.

"The kidnappers have contacted me, being the general secretary of TEKAN, about the two pastors they are holding captive, and they are demanding that we pay them a ransom of 100 million naira," Rev. Moses Ebuga said, as quoted by the Morning Star. Ebuga is the general secretary of the Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria (TEKAN).

Urgent measures were taken into action by the government to rescue the pastors. It was reported that police officials in northern Kaduna set up a special task force to fight the kidnappers.

"I can now confirm the release of the two, Rev. Emmanuel Dziggau, the president of our church, and the Rev. Yakubu Dzarma, a retired pastor of our church," Wobiya told the Morning Star. "Unfortunately, the third pastor, the Rev. Iliya Anto, died during the incident." Wobiya continued.

The cause of the kidnapping was suspected to be motivated by politics within the Christian Association of Nigeria because they are in the middle of selecting a successor for the presidency of the association.

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