Four hundred Nigerian pupils went missing after armed motorcycle-riding bandits raided their school in the latest ‘mass kidnap’ to hit the country plagued by Islamist militants.
The gunmen, who were carrying assault rifles, attacked the Government Science secondary school in Nigeria’s northwestern Katsina state late on Friday, police said. Hundreds of students were missing, according to two local people.
The bandits stormed the school in the Kankara district at around 9.40pm, and police at the scene returned fire, allowing some students to run for safety, police spokesman Gambo Isah said in a statement.
Police said they were working with the army and air force to determine how many pupils were missing or kidnapped, and to find them. One officer was shot and wounded in the exchange of fire with the gang, they said.
A source at the school told a local newspaper, This Day Live, that the bandits were riding on motorcycles.
He added: ‘They abducted many of our students who were inside their hostels. I cannot say how many people were kidnapped, but they went away with many students.
‘As we speak this morning [Saturday], our remaining students have left the school and their parents are here with us trying to know their whereabouts.’
Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice President, tweeted earlier today: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the abducted pupils of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.’
There were chaotic scenes at the school on Saturday as desperate parents and security personnel gathered to search for roughly half of the school’s 800 students who were still missing, said one parent and a school employee.
Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, is plagued by violent bandits who regularly attack locals and kidnap for ransom. Attacks by Islamist militants are common in northeastern parts of the country.
Violence and insecurity across Nigeria have enraged citizens, particularly after scores of farmers were killed, some beheaded, by Islamist militants in northeast Borno state late last month.
Buhari, who arrived on Friday for a week in his home village some 200 km (125 miles) from Kankara, was scheduled to brief the national assembly on the security situation last week, but cancelled the appearance without official explanation.
In February 2018, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northeast Nigeria, with 101 of the pupils being returned to the town, Dapchi, over one month later after negotiations between the Nigerian government and the ISIS-affiliated militant group.
After the release, Boko Haram issued an ominous warning to the parents of the schoolgirls, warning: ‘Don’t ever put your daughters in school again.’
Nigeria’s government previously said ‘no ransoms were paid’ in the release.
A similar abduction also occurred in Chibok in April 2014, when more than 200 girls were taken.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Katie Weston