Dozens of schoolboys and staff were kidnapped by gunmen in northwest Nigeria early Wednesday, according to local officials, the latest in a string of high-school abductions that have roiled the northern states of Africa’s most populous country.
The gunmen stormed the Government Science college in Kagara district of Niger state around 2 a.m. and overwhelmed the school security, killing one student before ordering students and staff to leave their hostels and gather, according to officials. “The situation is very serious…Some 27 students, 3 staff and 12 members of their family were kidnapped,” said Abubakar Sani Bello, the governor of Niger state. Unfortunately one student was shot dead.”
A photograph shared by the governor’s security officials showed the body of a student on the back of a pickup truck covered in leaves. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, criticized for reacting slowly to previous abductions, dispatched the country’s military chiefs to coordinate a rescue operation, his spokesman said.
Shehu Sani, a former senator who studied in Kagara as a boy, said it was unclear how many people were missing but that the school was attended by some 1,000 students.
The kidnapping comes barely a month after 344 boys were taken from a school in nearby Katsina state. Three of the abducted boys told The Wall Street Journal in interviews that the kidnappers told them a ransom had been paid for their release. Government officials denied paying a ransom and said the kidnappers released the schoolboys because the military had surrounded them.
Mr. Sani said that kidnapping for ransom was now a multimillion-dollar business across the north. “Its a disaster, the rural areas are virtually under the control of these bandits.”
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