BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

world

U.S. Missionary In Nigeria Kidnapped By Gunmen

Phyllis Sortor, a missionary with a Seattle church, was abducted in Kogi State, according to church officials and her stepson.

Posted on February 24, 2015, at 10:18 a.m. ET

Phyllis Sortor, a missionary with Seattle's Free Methodist Church, was reportedly abducted by masked gunmen in Central Nigeria on Monday, according to church officials and local Nigerian police.

Sortor was kidnapped Monday by "unknown gunmen...(who) came into the school premises shooting sporadically to scare away people before taking (the hostage) away into the bush", Kogi state police spokesman Sola Collins Adebayo told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

Bishop David Kendall of The Free Methodist Church released a statement on Monday, "urging prayer for Free Methodist missionary Phyllis Sortor."

Dear Friends,

Early this morning we received a report that Rev. Phyllis Sortor, our missionary in Nigeria, was abducted from the Hope Academy compound in Emiworo, Kogi State, Nigeria by several persons. The U.S. Embassy has been notified, and the State Department and the FBI are working with local authorities to find and rescue her. We are calling on the U.S. church to join together in prayer for Phyllis' safety and speedy release.

Kogi state Police Commissioner Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi told CNN that five men, who kidnapped the woman, were demanding a ransom of 60 million Naira ($301,500).

A State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that they are aware of media reports on that a U.S. citizen was reported missing in Nigeria, but had no further information to share due to "privacy considerations."

"The welfare of U.S. citizens is one of the Department's highest priorities," Pooja Jhunjhunwala, the State Department spokesperson said. "In cases where U.S. citizens are confirmed missing, the U.S. embassy works closely with those involved, supporting local authorities in their search efforts, and provide all appropriate consular assistance."

Sortor's stepson, Richard Sortor, who attended a prayer service for her on Monday night, told reporters, "She believes in God, she's doing God's work."

Sortor was a financial administrator at the Hope Academy in Kogi state from where she was reportedly abducted. She worked with the International Child Care Ministries and was involved in educating children and parents of the nomadic Fulani clan according to the Free Methodist World Missions website.