Sunday, October 24, 2021

Gunmen kidnap Islamic schoolchildren in Nigeria

Abductions of students carried out for ransom are increasingly common in the region.

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Nigerian officials say gunmen kidnapped an unknown number of students from an Islamic school in Nigeria on Sunday.

A teacher told the BBC that 150 students were missing from the school in the town of Tegina, while other reports put the figure at about 200.

The pupils were at the Salihu Tanko Islamic School, in the north-central Nigerian state of Niger, when they were abducted by the men, who were firing “indiscriminately”, said state police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun.

He said the abduction was carried out by “armed bandits on board motorcycles in their numbers” and while they were still trying to ascertain exact numbers of children missing, they believe it to be around 200.

All “tactical teams” have been mobilised to rescue the victims and the police will “ensure the children are rescued unhurt”, he said.

Abductions of students carried out for ransom are increasingly common in northern states.

Tegina is not far from the town of Kagara, where 27 students were abducted in February.

Also in February nearly 300 girls were taken by armed men from a boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara state. Most were later freed.

In the latest incident, witnesses quoted by This Day news site said gunmen on motorcycles rode through the town, shooting at random people.

As people fled, the attackers stormed the Islamic school and seized the children. The school is attended by boys and girls, aged six to 18.

Authorities said two people were shot during the attack and one had since died. A number of people travelling in a car were also reportedly kidnapped.

The attack in Tegina comes a day after 14 people kidnapped from a university in the neighbouring state of Kaduna were released.

There have been at least six kidnappings of students in north-west and central Nigeria since December, with more than 800 students and staff abducted.

The 2014 kidnap of 276 schoolgirls in the north-eastern town of Chibok by Islamist militants Boko Haram brought global attention to the scourge of raids on schools in Nigeria, but more recent attacks are suspected to be the work of criminal gangs.

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