Gunmen Kidnap More Than 280 From Nigerian School: Teacher

Gunmen have kidnapped more than 280 pupils during a raid on a school in northwest Nigeria, a teacher and a local resident said, in one of the country’s largest mass abductions.

Kidnappings for ransom are common in Africa’s most populous country, where criminal gangs have targeted schools and colleges in the past, especially in the northwest, though such attacks have abated recently.

Local government officials in Kaduna State confirmed the kidnapping attack on Kuriga school on Thursday but gave no numbers as they said they were still working out how many children had been abducted.

Sani Abdullahi, one of the teachers at the GSS Kuriga school in the Chikun district, said Thursday that staff managed to escape with many students when the gunmen were firing in the air.

“We then began working to determine the actual figure of those kidnapped,” he told local officials visiting the school.

“In GSS Kuriga, 187 children are missing, while in the primary school, 125 children were missing but 25 returned.”

Local resident Muhammad Adam told AFP: “More than 280 have been kidnapped. We initially thought the number was 200, but after a careful count it was discovered the children kidnapped are a little more than 280.”

Local officials and police did not give any figures for the number of kidnapped. Often figures of those reported kidnapped or missing in Nigeria are lowered after people fleeing the attack return home.

“As of this moment we have not been able to know the number of children or students that have been kidnapped,” Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani told reporters at the site on Thursday. “No child will be left behind.”

Hundreds of schoolchildren and college students have been kidnapped in mass abductions in the country’s northwest and central region, including in Kaduna, in the last few years.

Almost all were released for ransom payments after weeks or months spent in captivity in camps hidden in forests that stretch across the northwestern states.

Amnesty International condemned the abductions in Kaduna.

“Schools should be places of safety, and no child should have to choose between their education and their life,” the rights group said on X, formerly Twitter.

“The Nigerian authorities must take measures immediately to prevent attacks on schools, to protect children’s lives and their right to education.”

Since coming to office in May, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made reducing insecurity one of his priorities, but Nigeria’s armed forces are battling on several fronts, including against a long-running jihadist insurgency in the northeast of the country.

More than 100 people were missing after militants carried out a mass kidnapping last week targeting women and children in a camp for those displaced by the conflict in the northeast.

Last September, gunmen abducted more than 30 people, including 24 female students, in a raid in and around a university in northwest Zamfara State.

In February 2021, bandits raided a girl’s boarding school in the town of Jangebe in Zamfara, kidnapping more than 300 students.

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