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Armed men kidnap 140 school students in Nigeria

Prime targets:  Schoolboys being escorted after their release by abductors in Katsina, Nigeria, in this file photo.

Prime targets: Schoolboys being escorted after their release by abductors in Katsina, Nigeria, in this file photo.

Heavily-armed men kidnapped 140 students from a boarding school in northwestern Nigeria on Monday, a school official said, the latest in a wave of mass abductions targeting schoolchildren and students.

Criminal gangs often attack villages to loot, steal cattle and abduct for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria, but since the start of the year they have increasingly targeted schools and colleges.

The attackers opened fire and overpowered security guards after storming the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state in the early hours of Monday, abducting most of the 165 pupils boarding there overnight.

“The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 students escaped. We still have no idea where the students were taken,” Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the school, said.

“Tactical police teams went after the kidnappers,” he said. “We are still on the rescue mission.”

Police said they had safely rescued 26 people, including a woman.

Around 1,000 students and pupils have been abducted in Nigeria since December. Most have been released after negotiations with local officials, although some are still being held.

Often, gangs target rural schools and colleges, where students stay in dormitories and security is light, allowing them to easily transport large numbers of victims to forest hideouts to negotiate ransoms.

The kidnapping of Nigerian schoolchildren first made international headlines in 2014 when jihadist group Boko Haram snatched nearly 300 schoolgirls from a rural school in Chibok.

Monday’s attack was the fourth mass school kidnapping in Kaduna state since December.


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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 9:31:50 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/armed-men-kidnap-140-school-students-in-nigeria/article35156969.ece