Nearly 300 students kidnapped from school in northwest Nigeria, authorities say


Gunmen attacked a school in Nigeria’s northwest region Thursday and abducted at least 287 students, the head teacher told authorities, marking the second mass abduction in the West African nation in less than a week.

Abductions of students from schools in northern Nigeria are common and have become a source of concern since 2014 when Islamic extremists kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in Borno state’s Chibok town. In recent years, the abductions have been concentrated in northwestern and central regions, where dozens of armed groups often target villagers and travellers for huge ransoms.

Locals told The Associated Press the assailants on Thursday surrounded the government-owned school in Kaduna State’s Kuriga town just as the pupils and students were about to start the school day.

Authorities had said earlier that more than 100 students were taken hostage in the attack. Sani Abdullahi, the head teacher, however, told Kaduna Gov. Uba Sani when he visited the town that the total number of those missing after a headcount was 287.

“We will ensure that every child will come back. We are working with the security agencies,” the governor told villagers in the area located 89 kilometres from the capital.

No immediate claim of responsibility

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack.

Security forces arrived with the governor several hours later as a search operation widened, while community members and parents gathered to wait for news.

The attack occurred days after more than 200 people, mostly women and children, were abducted by extremists in northeastern Nigeria.

Women, children and students are often targeted in the mass abductions in the conflict-hit northern region, and many victims are released only after paying huge ransoms.

Observers say both attacks are a reminder of Nigeria’s worsening security crisis, which resulted in the deaths of several hundred people in 2023, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Bola Tinubu was elected president of Nigeria last year after promising to end the violence.

But there has been “no tangible improvement in security situation yet” under Tinubu, said Oluwole Ojewale, West and Central Africa researcher with the Africa-focused Institute for Security Studies.

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