Africa

Gunmen raid school, abduct students in northwestern Nigeria

Nigerian police officer


Nigerian police officer

PHOTO: Yasuyoshi Ciba/AFP

  • In
    the latest violent abduction targeting schools in Nigeria, gunmen snatched an
    undisclosed number of students from a forestry college.
  • The
    suspected kidnap gang stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in
    Mando, Kaduna state shooting indiscriminately.
  • This
    was at least the fourth such attack since December, with bandits often kidnapping
    victims for ransom.

Kano
– Nigerian gunmen have snatched an unspecified number of students from a
college in a northwestern state, local police said on Friday, in the latest
abduction targeting schools.

The
suspected kidnap gang stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in
Mando, Kaduna state, around 21:30 (20:30 GMT) on Thursday, shooting indiscriminately
and taking students hostage.

The
college was said to have some 300 male and female students – mostly aged 17 and
older – at the time of the attack, but it was not immediately clear how many
were seized or missing.

“There
was a kidnapping incident at the forestry college, but we have no details of
the number of students abducted,” state police spokesperson Mohammed
Jalige told AFP.

“The
police alongside the army are working to trace and rescue the students,”
he said.

Heavily
armed gangs in northwest and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent
years, kidnapping for ransom, raping and pillaging.

The
bandits are recently turning their attention on schools where they kidnap
students or schoolchildren for ransom – Thursday’s was at least the fourth such
attack since December.

‘We kept hearing gunshots’

Samuel
Aruwan, Kaduna state’s home affairs commissioner visited the school early on Friday.
Confirming the latest abduction, he said an investigation was under way.

Residents
also heard repeated gunshots in the area late on Thursday.

“We
kept hearing gunshots which we ignored as shooting drills from the Nigeria
Defence Academy which is a stone-throw from the forestry college,” said
Mustapha Aliyu, who lives in the area.

“It
was only when we came out for the morning prayers in the mosque that we learnt
it was gunmen who took away students from the college,” he said.

Aliyu
said only female students might have been seized from the college.

“From
what other students told us the gunmen only took female students,” said
Aliyu.

The
area is notorious for banditry and armed robbery, especially along the highway
linking the city with the airport.

Spate of kidnappings

The
gangs are largely driven by financial motives and have no known ideological
leanings. Victims are often released shortly after negotiations, though
officials always deny any ransom payments.

On
Saturday, criminal gangs known locally as bandits broke into the staff quarters
of the nearby Kaduna airport, abducting 12 people, according to airport
officials.

On
27 February, gunmen abducted 279 schoolgirls in nearby Zamfara state.

A
week earlier, gunmen seized 42 people, including 27 students from an all-boys
boarding school in central Niger state.

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

The
US has condemned the recent attacks on schools.

“Frankly,
we’re disgusted by this pattern of mass abductions of school kids. I can think
of nothing more abhorrent,” Michael Gonzales, Deputy Assistant Secretary
at the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs told a press briefing.

He
said the US “is ready to provide appropriate support to the Nigerian
government if requested to do so”.



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