Gunmen suspected to be from the Boko Haram Islamist militant group kidnapped two traditional Muslim rulers from northeast Nigeria on Friday, two official sources said.
The gunmen snatched the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idriss Timta, and the Emir of Uba, Alhaji Ismaila Mamza, from vehicles on the road at Zhur, a remote community in the southern part of Borno state. They were on their way to a funeral, a security source and a Borno state government official told Reuters.
Neither were authorized to be named.
One of the sources said military had been deployed to the area to rescue the hostages, although such missions were always fraught with danger.
Despite a year-long military offensive against it, Islamist group Boko Haram, which is fighting to reinstate an ancient Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, has been able to run riot across the north east - and bomb cities across the country.
On Thursday, in the northeastern village of Gurmushi, near Nigeria's border with Cameroon, suspected Islamist gunmen riding motorbikes killed 32 people.
Nigeria's president said on Thursday he had ordered a full-scale operation against Boko Haram Islamist militants and sought to reassure parents of 219 schoolgirls being held by the group that their children would be freed.
Boko Haram has been kidnapping school girls to take as "brides'' for commanders for more than a year, but the attack on Chibok last month shocked the world and galvanised an international effort to free them. The Islamists are also treating them as hostages, demanding a prisoner swap.
Since April 14, when they were taken, at least 500 civilians have been killed by the militants, according to a Reuters count.