Dozens of pupils abducted by gunmen in Nigeria’s northwest

Gunmen escape with children from a government primary school in Kuriga town in Kaduna state.

Gunmen have attacked a school in northwestern Nigeria and kidnapped dozens of pupils as they were about to start the school day, local residents and authorities say.

Police in Kaduna state did not immediately comment on the abductions, which happened at the Local Government Education Authority School in the town of Kuriga on Thursday.

The number of pupils taken was not immediately clear.

The assailants stormed the school shortly after morning assembly about 8am (07:00 GMT), taking the pupils hostage before any help could arrive, Joshua Madami, a youth leader in the area, told The Associated Press news agency.

“They were surrounded from all angles and left with almost 200 pupils and students,” Madami said.

According to Salasi Musa, chairperson of the Chikun Local Government Area in Kaduna, the number of pupils abducted was “far more than 100”.

Abductions of students from schools in northern Nigeria are common and have become a source of concern since 2014 when Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Borno state’s Chibok village.

Kaduan state nigeria
Kaduna state, Nigeria

In recent years, the abductions have been concentrated in the northwest and central regions, where dozens of armed groups often target villagers and travellers for large ransoms.

The last major reported abduction involving schoolchildren was in June 2021 when gunmen took more than 80 students in a raid on a school in the northwestern state of Kebbi.

‘We don’t know what to do’

Parents of the missing children told the Reuters news agency that the gunmen started shooting sporadically on arrival at the school before abducting the children and escaping.

The school educates primary and secondary school students.

“We don’t know what to do. We are all waiting to see what God can do. They are my only children I have on Earth,” Fatima Usman, whose two children were among those abducted, told Reuters by phone.

Another parent, Hassan Abdullahi, told Reuters that local vigilantes had tried to repel the gunmen but were overpowered.

“Seventeen of the students abducted are my children. I feel very sad that the government has neglected us completely in this area,” Abdullahi said.

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