Police rescue at least 22 people kidnapped from suburb of Nigeria's capital

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) - At least 22 people kidnapped by gunmen from the suburban Dawaki district of Abuja, Nigeria's capital, were rescued, police and residents said on Tuesday.

Kidnapping for ransom is rife in Nigeria as roving gangs of armed men target people in remote areas, highways and schools.

While there have been a few attacks and kidnappings around Abuja in recent years, the incidents have been largely consigned to the outskirts of the city where security is lax.

Nicholas Olayinka, a resident, told Reuters on Tuesday that a large number of hooded gunmen in military uniforms invaded the parts of the district at about 7:40 pm local time (1640 GMT) on Monday, shooting sporadically and causing a panic as people fled for safety.

"In the end, we realized they had taken about 19 people in the streets around Fulani junction, and another three from an adjoining street," Olayinka said.

Abuja police spokesperson Josephine Adeh said in a statement that a report of the incident was received from a resident, after which officers were mobilized, alongside local hunters, who ambushed the gunmen.

"This led to a fierce gun duel where the hoodlums were overwhelmed by the firepower of the operatives, forcing them to scamper to safety with various degrees of bullet injuries, and the victims were rescued" Adeh said.

One of the rescued kidnap victims was wounded during the attack and was being treated, Adeh said.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Editing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Bill Berkrot)