A 27-year-old American missionary, Philip Walton, was abducted in southern Niger by six gunmen carrying AK-47s in the middle of the night Tuesday. At almost 2 a.m., the six men stormed Walton's home, demanded money, and tied up his wife, young daughter, and brother, before loading him onto their motorbikes and vanishing.
Local authorities believe that the assailants were from the Fulani ethnic tribe and fled into the neighboring country of Nigeria, where they have been terrorizing Christians for years. Aircraft have been used to search for Walton, but to this point have been unsuccessful in locating him or his captors.
The U.S. State Department says that it has been informed of the incident.
"We are aware of a U.S. citizen abducted in Niger. We are providing their family all possible consular assistance," a State Department spokesperson said.
🔦 Nigeria, where the search is now focused, ranks 12th in the world on lists of the worst Christian persecution.