msnbc.com news services
updated 9/28/2010 7:23:10 AM ET 2010-09-28T11:23:10

Nigerian police say kidnappers have seized a school bus full of children in the country's southeast.

Federal police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said Tuesday that officers and investigators were on their way to Abia state to investigate Monday's attack.

The incident occurred early on Monday while the nursery and primary students were being driven to the Abayi International School in the state's commercial capital, Abia state police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna told Reuters.

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Police said there were 15 youngsters on the bus.

The whereabouts of the children was unknown, but the kidnappers had contacted the school authorities demanding a ransom, Ogbonna added.

Abia state has seen a sharp increase in kidnappings for ransom over recent months. The state has been beset by lawlessness as kidnappers in the West African nation increasingly target the country's burgeoning middle class.

Kidnappings have grown increasingly common across Nigeria, an oil-rich country of 150 million people where most live on less than $1 a day.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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