An American missionary working at a school in central Nigeria was kidnapped by masked gunmen Monday night, according to a statement from the Free Methodist Church and a spokesman for the state police, who said her kidnappers have not been identified.

The missionary, the Rev. Phyllis Sortor, was working as a teacher at Hope Academy in Kogi, a state that straddles the northern and southern regions of Nigeria, where kidnapping is a multimillion-dollar business for criminal gangs.

"Armed gunmen came into the compound and whisked her away," said Kogi state police spokesman Sola Collins Adebayo. "They went for her — they shot into the air to scare people away from her and they took her."

In a statement, the Free Methodist Church said that the State Department and the FBI "are working with local authorities to find and rescue" Sortor. A State Department spokesperson said that they were "aware" that a U.S. citizen was reported missing in Nigeria and referred reporters to Nigerian authorities.

Adebayo said police were pursuing the kidnappers into the hills near the Hope Academy compound. He said that no ransom had been demanded.

Washington Post