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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Hundreds of boys kidnapped as gunmen storm Nigerian school

Incident occurs two months after Boko Haram abducted about 400 pupils in Nigeria

A man tries to salvage valuables from burnt shops after deadly clashes between the northern Fulani and southern Yoruba traders at Shasha Market in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria, on February 15, 2021. AFP
A man tries to salvage valuables from burnt shops after deadly clashes between the northern Fulani and southern Yoruba traders at Shasha Market in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria, on February 15, 2021. AFP

Gunmen believed to belong to a criminal gang kidnapped hundreds of schoolboys and some teachers in central Nigeria, an official and a security source said on Wednesday.

The attackers, wearing military uniforms, stormed the Government Science College in “huge numbers” in the town of Kagara, in Niger state, late on Tuesday, herding the captives into a nearby forest, the sources said.

One pupil was killed during the kidnapping, the official said.

Northwest and central Nigeria are increasingly targeted by criminal gangs who kidnap for ransom, but also rape and pillage throughout the region.

“Bandits went into GSC Kagara last night and kidnapped hundreds of students and their teachers,” an official said.

“One of the kidnapped staff and some students managed to escape. The staff confirmed a student was shot dead during the kidnap operation,” the official said.

Troops with aerial support were tracking the bandits hoping to effect a possible rescue, the security source said.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari sent security chiefs to co-ordinate the rescue operation, his spokesman said.

Mr Buhari condemned the incident and said they had not yet ascertained the number of staff and pupils abducted.

About 1,000 pupils attend the school and security sources confirmed a head count was under way.

Two months ago, hundreds of schoolboys were abducted in north-west Katsina state and released days later after negotiations with the government.

The gangs are driven by financial motives and have no ideological leanings, but security officials fear they are being infiltrated by extremists from Nigeria’s north-east, where the army is battling a decade-long insurgency.

Updated: February 17, 2021 04:42 PM

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