Three police killed as zoo boss seized in Nigeria

WARRI, Nigeria: Three police officers were killed and the brother of a government minister was kidnapped after an attack on a zoo in southern Nigeria, police and the government said on Monday.

Edo state police spokesman Alex Osahon said the attack happened at about 6pm (1700 GMT, 1am Tuesday Malaysia) on Sunday at the Ogba Zoological Garden and Nature Park in Benin City.

"Dr Andy Ehanire, brother to the minister of state for health (Dr Osagie Ehanire) was abducted by the hoodlums who stormed the zoo," he said.

"Sporadic gunshots ... led to the death of three policemen" attached to the zoo, he added.

Andy Ehanire is the zoo's director and chief executive.

Kidnapping for ransom is a regular occurrence in Nigeria's south, with high-profile invidivuals and their families a frequent target for criminal gangs.

Victims are usually released after a few days once payment is made.

In recent years, gangs have seized the brother and sister of the country's former oil minister, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor's wife and the mother of the finance minister.

Nigeria's Information Minister Lai Mohammed condemned the attack and said the safety of staff and visitors was essential for developing tourism.

"The killing of the three policemen attached to the zoo to provide security for fun-seekers, the abduction of the zoo boss and the trauma suffered by visitors who witnessed the attack are saddening, condemnable and most unfortunate," he added. — AFP