Two German archaeologists were kidnapped in central Nigeria on Wednesday, a police official said, near the road between Abuja and its temporary airport.
Abuja’s main airport will be closed for repairs for six weeks from March 8, with flight rerouted to Kaduna some 160 km to the north.
That set-up has raised security concerns. Abuja-bound passengers will have to fly to Kaduna and travel in buses, guarded by security, on a road where several kidnappings have taken place in the past few years.
Kidnappings for ransom are common in parts of Nigeria.
The two German archaeologists were kidnapped on Wednesday morning during excavation work at Jajela village, Kaduna state police spokesman Aliyu Usman told Reuters. It is roughly 30 km from the Abuja-Kaduna road.
“The case was reported by locals and we have swung into action to rescue them,” he said, adding so far there had been no ransom demand or contact from the kidnappers.
“Unfortunately the victims did not go to the site with the policemen attached to them for security,” he added.
A German foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment.
Nigeria’s government hoped international carriers would use Kaduna during the main airport closure, but many said they will not fly there as an alternative.
Some embassies in Abuja also intend to minimise staff travel while the airport is being repaired. Last July, Sierra Leone’s deputy high commissioner was kidnapped on the road.
Kaduna has also been a flashpoint for violence between herders and farmers clashing over scarce resources.
Its international airport handled 12 flights in December 2015, the last month for which Nigeria’s airports authority has figures, compared with 812 at Abuja International.