Gunmen believed to belong to a criminal gang have kidnapped hundreds of schoolboys from their hostels, along with some of teachers in central Nigeria, AFP reported on Wednesday, citing an official and a security source.
The attackers, who were wearing military uniforms, stormed the Government Science College in “huge numbers” in the town of Kagara in Niger state late on Tuesday, herding the students into a nearby forest, the sources said.
One student died during the kidnapping, the official added.
Northwest and Central Nigeria have increasingly been targeted by criminal gangs known locally as “bandits” who kidnap people regularly.
“Bandits went into GSC Kagara last night and kidnapped hundreds of students and their teachers,” said an official who asked not to be identified.
“One of the kidnapped staff and some students managed to escape. The staff confirmed that a student was shot dead during the kidnapping operation,” the official said.
The school has around 1,000 students, but it was not immediately clear how many of them were taken.
The security source confirmed the details of the attack and said a headcount was under way.
Troops with aerial support were tracking the bandits for a possible rescue operation, the security source said.
The kidnapping comes just two months after hundreds of schoolboys were abducted in northwestern Katsina state. They were released days later, following negotiations with the government.
The gangs, who are driven mainly by financial motives, have no ideological leanings but security officials fear they are being infiltrated by terrorists from Nigeria’s northeast where the army is battling a decade-long Wahhabi insurgency.