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Nigeria: Gunmen kidnap more than 280 school students

March 8, 2024

A teacher and a local resident have confimed what is one of the country's worst mass abduction. Kidnappings for a ransom are frequent in Africa's most populous country.

Nigeria army trucks are park in an area were gunmen kidnapped school childre.
Some students and staff managed to escape while gunmen were firing in the air.Image: AP Photo/picture alliance

Gunmen kidnapped over 280 students in an assault on a school in northwest Nigeria, according to a teacher and a resident — a tally that would make it one of the largest mass abductions in the country.

Mass abductions for ransom are a frequent occurrence in Nigeria, where criminal gangs often target schools. However, these incidents had reduced until recently. 

Officials from the local government in Kaduna State confirmed the attack on Kuriga school on Thursday, but did not specify the exact number of children abducted.

What do we know about the kidnapping

Sani Abdullahi, a teacher at GSS Kuriga school in the Chikun district told local authorities they were trying to determine the number of children abducted.

"At GSS Kuriga, 187 children are unaccounted for, while in the primary school, 125 children were missing, with 25 returning," Abdullahi disclosed. 

He said several students had managed to escape with the school staff while the gunmen were firing in the air.

The AFP news agency said a nearby resident had informed them that the number exceeded 280.

Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani told reporters in a press briefing on Thursday, "We will ensure that every child will come back. We are working with the security agencies."

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was elected to office on the promise of addressing the lack of security in the country. Nigeria's armed forces are engaged in various conflicts, including an insurgency movement in the northeast.

A few days ago, several women were reported missing after suspected Islamist insurgents carried out a mass kidnapping in a remote area of northeastern Nigeria's Borno state.

Last September, gunmen abducted more than 30 people from a university in Zamfara state. More than 300 students had been kidnapped from a girl's boarding school in the town of Jangebe in Zamfara in 2021.

tg/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)