Gunmen seized more than 100 students from a boarding school in northwestern Nigeria on Monday. A school official told the Agence France-Presse news agency that the number of students abducted was 140.
"The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 students escaped. We still have no idea where the students were taken," said Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state where the kidnapping happened.
Gunmen scaled a fence to break into the school in the early hours of Monday morning, kidnapping most of the 165 pupils boarding there.
Kaduna state police spokesman Mohammed Jalige confirmed to AFP that the attack took place early Monday morning, but could not give details on the number of students taken.
"Tactical police teams went after the kidnappers," he said. "We are still on the rescue mission," he added.
Wave of kidnappings in northern Nigeria
Monday's attack is the fourth large-scale school kidnapping in Kaduna state since December.
Authorities have attributed previous kidnappings to bandits seeking ransom payments.
Criminal gangs often loot villages, steal cattle and carry out abductions for ransom in northwestern and central Nigeria. However, since the start of the year, bandits have increasingly targeted schools and colleges.
DW's West Africa correspondent Fred Muvunyi says there is growing frustration at the government's failure to stop these kidnappings.
"What is so special about Kaduna State, it's because of the stance of the governor there who says that he's not going to negotiate with bandits. And now they are actually retaliating, saying that, you know, we are going to show you that actually we are capable and we are going to make sure that you come on the table so that we can negotiate."
But the governor of Kaduna, Nasir El Rufai, said in an interview with the BBC that kidnappers come in from other states.
It is estimated that more than 800 students have been abducted since December in northern Nigeria. At least 150 remain missing.
Mass abductions from schools in Nigeria have grown more common since 2014 when Boko Haram rebels kidnaped 276 female students from a government school in Chibok in northeastern Borno state.
wmr/jlw (AFP, Reuters)