Gunmen abduct schoolboys, teachers in Nigeria in night-time raid

An empty classroom with schoolbags and wares of schoolboys is seen left behind after gunmen abducted students at the Government Science school in Kankara, in northwestern Katsina state, Nigeria December 15, 2020.
An empty classroom with schoolbags and wares of schoolboys is seen left behind after gunmen abducted students at the Government Science school in Kankara, in northwestern Katsina state, Nigeria December 15, 2020. © Kola Sulaimon, AFP

Gunmen attacked a school in Nigeria’s north-central Niger State after midnight Wednesday, killing at least one student and abducting more than 40 people including students and teachers, the state governor's spokeswoman said on Wednesday

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The gunmen, thought to be bandits, shot dead one student during the incident early Wednesday at the Government Science College, Kagara in Nigeria's Niger State. Local reports said about 26 students and 16 staff and family members were abducted, while authorities were trying to get exact numbers. 

The gunmen chased the students across the school and shot one of them in the head as he tried to escape, the school’s head prefect, Awal Abdulrahman, said.

“They attacked the first two houses (hostels) by the wall … They entered the house and chased students who tried to escape … They followed us shooting and in the process shot one of us in the head,” he said. 

A teacher at the school, Aliyu Isah, said the gunmen entered the school premises at about 1.30am local time dressed in military camouflage and forced him to lead them to the students’ sleeping quarters where he and some students were tied up in pairs.

“They put me in front to lead them to the school hostel ... They told the students not to worry, that they were soldiers,” he said, adding that some wore camouflage, army uniforms, and one wore a black coat. 

“They gathered all the students outside but some ran into the bush,” he said. “I was thinking I would not be able to escape but luckily enough, Allah gave me a way to escape from them and I assisted the students that we were tied together ... I ran toward the football field and they started shooting.” 

Buhari condemns raid, dispatches security chiefs

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the raid and dispatched security chiefs to coordinate rescue operations, his spokesman said.

Niger State governor Abubakar Sani Bello closed the state's schools and called on Buhari for assistance to improve security.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram and a branch of Islamic State (IS) group are active in northern Nigeria, but kidnappings by other armed groups – mostly for ransom – are also common.

Two months ago, gunmen stormed a secondary school in northwestern Katsina state and kidnapped nearly 350 boys, who were subsequently rescued by security forces.

About 100 of more than 270 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok in 2014 are still missing.

Such attacks have raised concerns about rising violence by Islamist insurgents and armed gangs and fuelled widespread criticism of Buhari's handling of national security. In January, the president appointed a new military high command.

Violence and insecurity have compounded the economic challenges faced by citizens in Africa's most populous country, which is struggling to cope with a fall in revenues due to an oil price slump on top of Covid-19.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

 

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