BIRNIN KEBBI, 18 June 2021 – Unidentified gunmen killed a police officer, injured one student, and abducted at least 80 other students from a mixed boarding school in Kebbi state, northwestern Nigeria.
The abductees, who included five teachers, were still in captivity Friday.
The attack took place Thursday afternoon on the Federal Government College in Birnin Yauri, a remote village in Kebbi State.
Thursday’s attack was the third mass kidnapping incident in three weeks in parts of northwestern Nigeria.
Authorities have blamed the attacks and abductions on armed bandits seeking ransom payments.
A female student who escaped as she was being led into captivity by the gunmen expressed doubts that the gunmen who invaded her school were Nigerians.
“I don’t think they [the gunmen] are from Nigeria at all,” the female student told reporters on Friday.
Reuters on Friday cited a teacher at the school, Usman Aliyu, describing the attack.
The gunmen “killed one of the [police officers], broke through the gate, and went straight to the students’ classes,” Aliyu told Reuters.
“They took four teachers – Mr. Kabantyok, Mallam Bash, the security officer and the VP [Vice Principal] student affairs; they took Mr. Jekonia, that tall man in the primary school, and they took his wife,” the female student who managed to escape told reporters on Friday.
Although Aliyu estimates that at least 80 students are in captivity, Kebbi state officials did not confirm the number of abductees, telling reporters that they were still finalizing a headcount of the missing.
The slain police officer apparently fired in the air to warn the attackers but was outgunned in the exchange of gunfire in which he was killed, according to Kebbi State Police Spokesperson Nafiu Abubakar.
Abubakar told reporters Friday that Nigerian armed and security forces were searching a nearby forest for the abducted students and teachers.
A student was injured as the assailants burst into classrooms, firing warning shots in the air.
The injured student is responding to treatment, according to officials.
The gunmen “shot one SSS 3 boy. They shot two students… They took SSS 1 and SSS 2 students, mostly girls,” the female student who escaped captivity explained to reporters.
Nigeria has been hit by a series of kidnappings by armed groups and bandits using captives to secure ransom payments.
Girls have been targeted and the horror stories told by released female abductees are of sexual abuse, with thousands of women and young girls believed to be held as sex slaves by jihadist militants across the northern parts of Nigeria.
So worried are parents about the safety of their children in boarding schools that some of them have taken to withdrawing their children, notably girls, from school altogether in the fear that they would be victims of kidnappings and sexual abuse in captivity.
Just prior to the abductions at the school, gunmen kidnapped four Chinese nationals near Lagos, the country’s economic capital, in the southwest of the country.
More than 130 students who were abducted from a Quranic school last month are still in captivity.