Nigeria is looking for hundreds of students feared abducted by a group of gunmen who exchanged fire with the Nigerian Army on Friday in the northern state of Katsina, police say.
The men were said to have been armed with AK-47 rifles when they attacked the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Kankara. No group has owned up to the attack but initial investigations have placed the blame on notorious kidnappers in that part of the country who have made a profitable venture out of taking ransoms.
DW reports that the number of kidnapped students is about half of the school’s population of some 800 students, however, police are not sure of the exact number. Search parties have been constituted to look for the students, who are mostly teenagers.
Some of the attackers are said to have rode on motorbikes. One officer was wounded in the nearly 2-hour shootout.
Police said their gun battle with the bandits was able to allow about 200 students to escape to safety. President Muhammadu Buhari has added that the gunmen have been founded and a team of security personnel, including the air force, are fighting the kidnappers.
On Saturday, some parents of the missing students converged at the school pleading with authorities to do what they can to return the youngsters. A man who had reportedly lost two of his three wards at the school said he was “praying that the almighty Allah should rescue our people”.
Kidnappings are rife in northern Nigeria where the federal government has failed in the last decade to protect life and property from attacks from groups such as Boko Haram. It was in 2014 that the infamous case of 276 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok, Bornu, happened.
The case of the Chibok girls inspired a global media campaign dubbed “Bring Back Our Girls”. Although a good number have been rescued, it is believed that nearly 100 of the girls are still in the grips of the terrorist group.