At least 42 people including 27 schoolboys were abducted overnight from a government-run school in northern Nigeria, the government has said.
One student was killed as gunmen raided Kagara school in Niger State. Three staff members and some of the boys’ relatives are also believed to be among the hostages.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an immediate rescue operation.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has received reports of the brazen attack on Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, following which, a yet to be ascertained number of staff and students have been abducted by gunmen,” a government statement read.
“Following these reports, the President has directed the Armed Forces and Police to ensure the immediate and safe return of all the captives. The President has also dispatched to Minna, Niger State a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation and meet with state officials, community leaders, as well as parents and staff of the college.”
In an interview earlier this morning, the secretary to the Niger State Government, Ahmed Matane, said that 42 people had been kidnapped. He went on to claim that the “gunmen came camouflaging in school uniforms. That was how they got into the school.” Other government officials, however, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have said that the gunmen were dressed as military officers when they stormed the school, which has about 1,000 students.
President Buhari, a former 1980s military dictator who was elected into office in 2015, campaigned heavily on his ability to secure the nation from such attacks. But yesterday’s kidnapping was just the latest in a series of abductions that have plagued northern Nigeria under his government. In December, around 300 schoolboys were kidnapped from Buhari’s hometown of Katsina. The Nigerian government was eventually able to negotiate their release.