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People are seen at the broken perimeter fence through which gunmen gained access to students at the Federal College of Forestry and Mechanisation in Kaduna, Nigeria
Gunmen broke through a perimeter fence at the college to gain access to the students insideImage: Stringer/REUTERS

Nigeria: Gunmen abduct dozens of students

March 12, 2021

The attack on the school in northwestern Nigeria is the fourth of its kind since December. It is thought around 30 students have been kidnapped.


Nigerian gunmen have kidnapped around 30 students from a forestry college in northwestern Kaduna state.

It is the fourth mass kidnapping from a school in Nigeria since December and the third this year.

What we know so far

  • The armed attack took place at around 9:30 p.m. (2030 UTC) on Thursday.
  • Students were abducted from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Mando, Kaduna state.
  • The Nigerian army rescued 180 people, who were initially taken, in the early hours of Friday.
  • Both male and female students are thought to have been originally abducted from the co-educational college.
  • Students attending the college are mostly aged 17 years or over.

How have authorities responded?

The military engaged the attackers and were able to take 180 staff and students to safety.

An unspecified number of the students were injured and are receiving medical attention at a military facility.

Security forces "are conducting an operation to track the missing students,'' Kaduna state's security commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, said.

Uwaisu Idris: Nigeria kidnapping 'indication of the growing insecurity'

Which group is behind the abduction?

Aruwan said the attack was carried out by a large group of "armed bandits."

Nigerian authorities have previously used the term bandits to describe the people behind an earlier abduction of 279 schoolgirls late last month in the country.

The term is used to describe groups of armed men who kidnap for money or to press for the release of jailed members of their groups.

The Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which is also active in the country as well as several other countries in the region, is also known to kidnap young women and force them into marriage.

Were only female students taken?

DW correspondent Uwaisi Idris reporting from capital city Abuja, Nigeria said that it is believed attackers only took female students to the bush: "They [the students] were abducted at night and picked out the female students."

It is "surprising" that the attackers' interests appear to have "only been in the female students," Idris said.

"The latest information we have is that the headcount [of those missing] is still going on to know the exact number of female students taken from the school," he added.

But Aruwan, in a statement, said "about 30 students, a mix of males and females, are yet to be accounted for."

Cameroon school security

A timeline of abductions

In December 2020, hundreds of schoolboys were seized in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari's home state while he was on a visit.

In mid-February 2021, gunmen seized 42 people, including 27 students from an all-boys boarding school in central Niger state.

A week later, on February 27, gunmen abducted 279 schoolgirls in nearby Zamfara state.

All school students were eventually released.

Abducted Nigerian girls return

Frustration at Nigeria's mass kidnapping crisis

The kidnappings are an indication of the growing insecurity in Nigeria, DW's Idris said. He added that bad governance and poverty were also factors.

"Frustration and anger" is growing among Nigerians, who are asking "why is it happening again?" But so far, Idris said that people felt the government had failed to provide a practical solution.

According to Idris, strong emotions were compounded by the coronavirus pandemic: schools had recently reopened after COVID restrictions were lifted, but now many in northern Nigeria had shut again due to the frequent kidnappings. Children's education was suffering as a result, Idris said.

kmm/rt (Reuters, AFP)

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