The exact number of children abducted on Sunday night (30) in a Quranic school in north-central Nigeria is still unknown. But officials and residents speak of a large number of abducted students, apparently in exchange for ransom, by armed men. The African country is often the scene of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren.
“An as yet undetermined number of students at the Islamic school Salihu Tanko have been kidnapped, along with passengers on a bus,” the Nigerian state government of Niger reported on Twitter. The kidnapping followed an attack by armed men against the school, where about 200 students are studying, the source added.
Eleven children, who were “too small to walk”, were released. The Nigerian government has denounced a “regrettable” act and the increase in kidnappings in search of ransoms in the center and north of the country.
Wasiu Abiodun, a police spokesman, said the kidnappers arrived on a motorcycle and opened fire on the school. Before kidnapping the children, they killed a resident and left a wounded.
School had 200 students
There were 200 students at the Salihu Tanku Koranic school at the time of the attack, but several of them managed to escape, said a director of the institution, who asked not to be identified.
“Initially, the kidnappers caught more than 100 students, but then they left those who were between 4 and 12 years old, who they considered too small,” he explained. The principal added that he did not have accurate data on the exact number of students kidnapped.
The government statement posted on Twitter indicated that Governor Sani Bello ordered “the agencies responsible for the security of finding and bringing the children back as soon as possible”.
The kidnapping came a day after 14 students from northern Kaduna state were released after spending 40 days in captivity. Five students were executed by their kidnappers in the days following that kidnapping to pressure families and the government to pay a ransom.
Several families said in the local press that they had paid 180 million naira (US $ 357,000, US $ 435,800) to release their children.
Armed groups, known in the region as “bandits”, operate in the central west and northwest of Nigeria, looting villages, stealing livestock and mass kidnapping children and adolescents in exchange for ransom. Since December 2020, 730 students have been kidnapped from schools.
* With information from AFP
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