Armed men kidnap 140 high school students in Nigeria
Kaduna, Nigeria – Gunmen kidnapped 140 students from a boarding school in the northwest Nigeriaa school official said Monday, the latest in a wave of mass kidnappings targeting school children and students. Heavily armed criminal gangs often attack villages in northwestern and central Nigeria to loot, steal cattle, and kidnap people to extort ransom, but they have increasingly had it since the beginning of the year targeted schools and colleges.
The attackers climbed a fence early on Monday morning to break into Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state and took away most of the 165 students who were staying overnight.
“The kidnappers took 140 students with them, only 25 students fled. We still have no idea where the students were taken, ”Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the school, told AFP.
Kaduna state police spokesman Mohammed Jalige confirmed the attack early Monday morning, but was unable to provide any information on the number of students taken.
“Tactical police teams followed up the kidnappers,” he said. “We’re still on the rescue mission.”
Since December last year, around 1,000 students and schoolchildren have been kidnapped in various Nigerian states. Most were released after negotiations with local officials, but some are still in custody.
Bethel Baptist High School is a co-educational college founded in 1991 by the Baptist Church in the village of Maramara, Chikun district, outside the state capital of Kaduna.
The attack on Monday was the fourth mass kidnapping in a school in Kaduna state since December.
Kaduna state governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai was one of the most vocal local leaders who insisted that he refuse to pay ransom.
The school kidnapping on Monday happened just hours after gunmen abducted eight medical workers from a health center in Kaduna, according to police.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general first elected in 2015, has promised to end the scourge of kidnappings and criminal gangs, but the mass kidnappings are just a challenge for his government.
Nigeria’s security forces have been fighting a jihadist uprising in the northeast since 2009, a conflict that killed around 40,000 people and displaced more than 2 million people.
The criminal gangs, known locally as bandits, operate from camps in the Rugu Forest, which stretches through Zamfara, Katsina and the state of Kaduna in Nigeria and Niger.
Most gangs are motivated by material gain, although some have pledged allegiance to jihadist organizations in northeastern Nigeria, hundreds of kilometers away.