Supporters of four Britons kidnapped in Nigeria’s Delta state are appealing to Archbishop Justin Welby for help in securing their release. They were taken at gunpoint by militants who are said to often demand ransoms for their victims.

Two of the four are Dr. David Donovan and his wife, Shirley, both 57, from Cambridge. They run a charity named New Foundations, offering free medical care to local people. Only the first names of the other victims are as yet known: Alana and Tyan, according to media reports. The couple’s sons Julian and Aiden work for the charity but were not taken.

They have worked in the dangerous Delta region for three years. According to some reports, the local police were unaware of their presence. In recent years a number of foreigners have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta region, which is Nigeria’s main source of crude oil and the country’s economic mainstay. Archbishop Welby, a former oil executive, knows the region well, having been threatened with death more than once while working there.

Local police are seeking to rescue the missionaries “without jeopardizing their lives,” a spokesman said.

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Nigeria is notorious for kidnappings. Hundreds of schoolgirls were taken by Muslim militants in the northern town of Chibok in 2014.

John Martin

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