Gunmen kidnapped an emir and 10 members of his family in northwest Nigeria's Kaduna state early on Sunday, police said.
Police and members of Nigeria's army are currently engaged in a search and rescue mission in a forest close to where the Chief of Kajuru, 83-year-old Alhaji Alhassan Adamu, was kidnapped.
Adamu's abduction marked the first time such a high-profile victim had been kidnapped in the state.
In a statement, Kaduna State Police Command said the incident occured when "armed bandits in large numbers invaded Kajuru town" in the early hours of the morning, "shot sporadically" and "gained access to the Chief's residence where they abducted him and 10 members of his immediate family [before taking them] to an unknown destination."
Kaduna sees uptick in violence
Saidu Musa, who is a grandson of the emir, said the gunmen kidnapped 12 members of Adamu's family, a different number of hostages than that given by local authorities.
"The gunmen forced their way into the palace around 12:30 a.m. (2130 UTC) and took away His Highness and 12 family members," French news agency AFP cited Musa as saying.
A palace source said Adamu knew a kidnapping was being planned.
"He summoned a security meeting yesterday where he informed security personnel of plans to abduct him but they did not take the threat seriously," AFP cited the source as saying.
Emirs, though they have no constitutional role, are typically revered in northern Nigeria as custodians of Islam and tradition. They generally act as a link between civilians and government, as well as peace makers in times of crisis.
Kaduna has recently become a target for kidnapping-for-ransom gangs, abduction of students from schools and travelers on highways. On Monday, more than 100 students were kidnapped from a Kaduna boarding school.
"The Command is saddened [by] this incident and it’s not relenting in ensuring a lasting solution to the current upsurge of criminality in the state," Kaduna police said in the statement.