Gunmen kidnap dozens in raid on Nigerian school

2021-02-17 16:00:28 GMT2021-02-18 00:00:28(Beijing Time) Sina English

Gunmen believed to be members of a criminal gang stormed a school in central Nigeria, killing one student and kidnapping dozens of pupils, teachers and relatives, a government official said today.

President Muhammadu Buhari, responding to the latest abduction attack at a Nigerian school, ordered security forces to coordinate a rescue operation.

Forty-two people were seized when gunmen dressed in military uniforms raided the Government Science College in the town of Kagara in Niger state before hauling the kidnap victims into a nearby forest.

Initial reports from a government official and a security source said hundreds of students were snatched from the school, where they were staying in dormitories.

“They kidnapped 42 people from the school. They took away 27 students, along with three teachers. One student was killed. They also kidnapped 12 family members of the teachers,” said Muhammad Sani Idris, spokesman for Niger state’s government.

He said 650 students had been in the school when it was attacked late on Tuesday.

Heavily-armed gangs known locally as “bandits” in northwest and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent years, kidnapping for ransom and raping and pillaging.

President Buhari, 78, condemned the abduction and ordered security forces to coordinate an operation to rescue the students.

“The President has directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure immediate and safe return of all the captives,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said.

The region is increasingly a hub for criminal gangs who raid villages, killing and abducting residents after looting and torching homes.

The gangs are largely driven by financial motives and have no known ideological leanings. But there is growing concern they are being infiltrated by jihadists from the northeast who are waging a decade-old insurgency to establish an Islamic state.