Wednesday, 21 April, 2021


New abduction at Nigeria school, hundreds feared missing

An empty classroom with wooden tables and bench seats and damaged floor walls and ceiling A similar kidnapping at a school took place just over a week ago in the north-central state of Niger
Noah Ferguson | 27 February, 2021, 01:57

"The armed men came into the school with vehicles, then they forced some of the girls to walk with them", said Sulaiman Tunau Anka, a local government spokesperson.

Suspected armed bandits raided a school dormitory in north-western Nigeria overnight, a teacher and parent told AFP on Friday, raising fears of another mass kidnapping in the region. Friday's was the third such incident since December.

The rise in abductions is fuelled in part by sizeable government payoffs in exchange for child hostages, catalysing a broader breakdown of security in the north, officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"I have spoken with the national council of the association, directing the state chapters of the association to make sure that they, alongside the government of the state should see how security personnel will be mobilised to secure the lives of all our children in all the government and private schools that are operating boarding facilities and so also day students".

"I receive call around 1:45am about wetin happun for di school and by 4am when I reach dia some parents don already dey dia but by den di gunmen don pack di students go, na just school authority dey try check who and who miss".

Resident Musa Mustapha said the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school. "We will not listen to anyone now until we rescue our children".

Armed groups operating in Zamfara often kidnap for ransom but when gunmen took more than 300 boys from Kankara in neighbouring Katsina state in December a year ago, some reports claimed that Boko Haram, which operates hundreds of miles away in the north-east, was behind the attack.

A group of boys some with blankets over their heads

President Muhammadu Buhari replaced his long-standing military chiefs earlier this month amid the worsening violence.

In December, dozens of gunmen abducted 344 schoolboys from the town of Kankara in north-west Katsina state. They were freed after six days but the government denied paying a ransom.

Islamic State's West Africa branch in 2018 kidnapped more than 100 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi in northeast Nigeria, all but one of whom - the only Christian - were released.

At least $20m ($14m) was pledged for the three-year project which was supported by the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, the former UK prime minister.

"People mobilised to block security operatives, journalists and government officials from getting access to the main town", he said. The incident drew widespread global attention, with then USA first lady Michelle Obama among the prominent figures calling for their return.

Amnesty International Nigeria said the abductions was "a serious violation of international humanitarian law".

This is the latest mass abduction targeting schools in recent weeks.

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