More than 300 schoolboys are still missing after gunmen attacked a secondary school in Kankara, a town in Nigeria’s northwestern Katsina state, authorities said.
Attackers on motorcycles stormed the all-boys Government Science School late on Friday and engaged security forces in a fierce gun battle, forcing hundreds of students to flee and hide in the surrounding forest.
So far we are yet to account for 333 pupils,” Katsina Governor Aminu Masari said on Sunday after a meeting with security officials, adding that the boarding school had a total of 839 students.
Masari said students who managed to escape the attack have been coming out of hiding in the forest. It is unclear if the students initially hid or they escaped from their attackers.
“Efforts are being made to ascertain the actual number of children that have been kidnapped,” said Masari.
Meanwhile, parents and family members on Sunday gathered at the school, issuing a plea to authorities to bring the missing boys to safety. If it’s not government that will help us, we have no power to rescue our children,” Murja Mohammed, whose son was taken, told Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, the hashtag BringBackOurBoys was trending on social media in Nigeria on Sunday as public outrage grew about an attack that initially saw 600 boys missing.
Defence Minister Major General Bashir Salihi-Magash, who met Masari, the governor, said the military will pursue the attackers and rescue the students without any collateral damage.
“We will go the whole hog,” said Salihi-Magash. “We have the intelligence, the information where they are and their movement and their method of operation.
From yesterday I was here, praying that the almighty Allah should rescue our people,” he said on Sunday, outside the dusty school grounds.
One of his missing sons, 17-year-old Buhari, was named after President Muhammadu Buhari, a native of Katsina state.
Anas, 16, was also missing. Lawal said the school principal addressed parents, telling them to pray.
Bint’a Ismail, mother of an abducted child, said residents of Katsina “are in a terrifying condition”.
“We don’t see the value of the government. I have a younger brother and a child taken by the kidnappers. I’m from Danja, Katsina state and I’ve been here in the school since dawn and yet there’s no update,” Ismail said.
These states [such as Katsina] in northwestern Nigeria are known to have serious attacks by bandits, uncoordinated groups that don’t really have any malign intention against the state, or are trying to impose any policy on … the state like we have with Boko Haram,” Eguegu said. These are just criminal elements operating freely in northwestern Nigeria.
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