Three humanitarian workers and two contractors have been abducted in northeast Nigeria where the military is fighting an extremist insurgency, aid officials said Thursday.
Both Boko Haram, which kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014, and ISWAP, linked to ISIS, operate in the region.
The Nigerian aid workers were with FHI 360, a US non-profit organization.
“FHI 360 condemns in the strongest possible terms the abduction of three staff members and two contractors in Ngala, Nigeria,” Christy Delafield, an FHI 360 spokesperson said in a statement.
Ngala is located in Borno State, near the border with Cameroon.
“We are extremely concerned for our colleagues and call for their unconditional, immediate and safe return,” she added.
Delafield said the staff members were working to provide life-saving medical care in the region.
“We are not sure who is responsible,” said another humanitarian official who asked to remain anonymous.
He said the abduction took place Tuesday evening.
Nigerian troops are stationed in the region at “super camps” but extremist raids continue in rural areas, with militants launching attacks from their nearby forest enclaves.
Insecurity across the country is a major concern in Africa’s most populous nation as a new president is set to be sworn in next month following an election disputed by the opposition.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the northeast insurgency began in 2009, according to the UN. Two million more have been displaced from their homes.
The violence has spread to parts of neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the militants.