An American has been kidnapped in Benin, according to U.S. officials. The information was brought to light by the U.S. Embassy website for the West African country of Benin, though very little information has been released about the situation. The individual in-question has not yet been identified, though officials assure American nationals there is no indication that others are currently at risk.
However, despite this posting on the embassy website, Francine Ochabi, the press attache for the Benin president, claims she has no knowledge of the abduction. As such, the government has refused to officially comment on the case. However, an anonymous source told the Associated Press that ransom has been demanded for the victim’s safe return, who is rumored to be in good health. Besides this sliver of information, little else is currently known.
A rumor coming from the Nigeria Newsdesk’s Twitter account suggests that the missing individual was abducted after meeting up with some criminals her or she met online. Obviously, none of this has been confirmed.
Although it’s weathered its fair share of problems since declaring independence from France nearly 50 years ago, Benin is considered to be moderately stable, politically-speaking. The only immediate problem is Nigeria, which has recently been destabilized by a terrorist outfit known as Boko Haram. The group has been responsible for numerous suicide bombings over the years.
The AP also reports that Al-Qaida offshoots are currently active in North Africa, many of which fund their operations by kidnapping foreigners. However, it’s thought that this activity, known in certain circles as “kidnap economy”, doesn’t stretch as far as Benin.