Gunmen kidnapped scores of children from an Islamic seminary in central Nigeria, officials said, the latest mass abduction to hit Africa’s most populous nation.
Some 200 children were at the school in Niger state on Sunday during the attack, the local government tweeted, adding “an unconfirmed number” had been taken.
He described “as unfortunate, the kidnapping of children from schools” and urged all those “involved in the rescue operation to do their utmost in securing their immediate release”.
Niger state police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said the attackers had arrived on motorbikes and started shooting indiscriminately, killing one resident and injuring another, before kidnapping the children from the Salihu Tanko Islamic school.
The state government, in a series of tweets, said the attackers had released 11 of the pupils who were “too small and couldn’t walk” very far.
– ‘Bandits’ –
Armed gangs, known locally as bandits, are terrorising inhabitants in northwest and central Nigeria by looting villages, stealing cattle, and taking people hostage for ransom.
Gangs have often targeted schools in remote areas, where pupils live in dormitories with little security protection, before taking their victims deep into nearby forests to negotiate.
Five students were executed a few days later to force families and the government to pay a ransom.
– ‘Kidnappings must stop’ –
Earlier this month, hundreds of protesters partially blocked a motorway into the capital Abuja after a spate of kidnappings in the area.
Their motives have been financial with no ideological leanings, but there is growing concern they are being infiltrated by jihadists from the northeast waging a 12-year insurrection to establish an Islamic state.