Hundreds of students are feared missing in Nigeria’s Northwestern Katsina state after a raid on a school by armed gunmen.
Police reports indicated that the bandits stormed into the Government Science secondary school at around 9:40 pm local time. The attack took place at the home state of Muhammadu Buhari as the police and military try to figure out how many children were either kidnapped or went missing.
According to Nigerian President Muhammud Buhari, the Nigerian military has directly engaged the gunmen. In a series of Tweets, he confirmed receiving a brief from Gov Aminu Bello Masari and Nigeria’s military chief of Staff on what went down during the attacks. He pointed out the location of the bandits to an enclave in Paula forest. Buhari also directed revamped security across all schools as part of the safe school policy of his administration.
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According to Police spokesman Gambo Isah, they engaged in a shootout that lasted for an hour and a half as bandits tried to enter the school. This enabled some of the students to run for their safety. One officer was shot and wounded in the process.
Local accounts reported on Al Jazeera indicate that the attackers split into two groups. While one group held off the security officers in a gunfire exchange, the other rushed into the school and began abducting the young. The government attributes the recent spate of insecurity and violent abduction in Katsina to banditry. They mostly attack the locals and kidnap the young for ransom.
Violence in Northern Nigeria
Northern Nigeria is riddled with incidents of violence and insecurity. The inability to restore the security situation has enraged citizens especially after dozens of farmers lost their lives in Northeast Borneo. Abductions in Katsina were part of a series of high profile incidents involving Nigerian school children.
Armed bandits often ambush and kidnap people along the main expressways. Most armed robberies turn out into fatalities. Most vulnerable communities are those close to the forest extending from Northwest Nigeria into Niger.
In 2018, the international community was outraged over the abduction of 100 girls in the northeastern town of Dapchi. In 2014, 6 years ago 270 girls were kidnapped in Chibok. So far no group has claimed responsibility for the incident.
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President @MBuhari has been briefed by Gov Aminu Bello Masari, and the Chief of @HQNigerianArmy Staff, on the bandits’ attack on innocent children at the Science School, Kankara, Katsina State. Military personnel have located the bandits’ enclave at Zango/Paula forest in Kankara.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) December 12, 2020