The Nigerian army has confirmed that 333 schoolboys are still missing after bandits attacked a government science secondary school last Friday and abducted hundreds of students.
Major General John Enenche said on Channels Television on Monday: “The Kankara school principal reported that 839 were in the boarding house when they were abducted. At 2pm Sunday the number of students that could not be accounted for reduced to 333.”
He described how the bandits used motorcycles to transport the kidnapped schoolchildren into the bush from where some of them escaped.
The attack prompted the state government to order the closure of all boarding schools in the state to prevent further mass kidnappings.
Authorities have denied the kidnappings were carried out by terrorists, and an anonymous Ƙankara resident has told Nigerian Channels Television that the bandits abducted the students out of revenge.
He revealed that the outlaws had previously attacked another village on Wednesday last week killing 12 villagers and abducting others.
“On Thursday, a vigilante posse went after the bandits in their hideouts and engaged in burning down their houses, killing some of them,” he said. “This made the bandits attack the other school on Friday night.”
The abduction of the schoolboys came at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari was visiting his hometown in Katsina state. He condemned the abduction of the students and directed the reinforcement of security at all schools.
In a statement on Saturday, the presidency said the military had located the bandits’ location and were in the process of retrieving the abducted students.
The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, gave an assurance that the boys would be rescued in a few hours.
Almost a day since the minister made the promise, the schoolboys have yet to return.