Nigeria kindappings

Schools in northwest Nigeria close after 73 students are abducted by armed men

Belongings Nigerian students kidnapped in Kaduna state, northwestern Nigeria, on 14 July 2021. Another group of students was kidnapped Wednesday.
Belongings Nigerian students kidnapped in Kaduna state, northwestern Nigeria, on 14 July 2021. Another group of students was kidnapped Wednesday. © Kola Sulaimon/AFP

All schools across Zamfara state in northwestern Nigeria are closed after armed men abducted 73 students in yet another school attack.

Advertising

A large group of gunmen invaded the Government Day Secondary School in Kaya, a village in the Maradun region of Zamfara, around midday Wednesday.

Police said 73 children were abducted. The school enrolled more than 500 students.

Zamfara state police spokesperson Mohammed Shehu said an operation was underway “to work in synergy with the military to ensure the safe rescue of the abducted students."

Officials ordered schools across the state to close to prevent further attacks, and have imposed some night-time travel restrictions.

Last week, three other groups of hostages were freed. Government officials haven't commented on whether they played any role in the releases, but it appears parents from at least one of those schools did pay a large ransom.

It remains unclear whether the kidnappers of the groups are connected, or if the releases were coincidental.

Armed gangs seeking ransoms have kidnapped more than 1,100 students in more than a dozen attacks on schools or colleges across northwest Nigeria since December 2020.

Some fear they are linked to Islamic militants who abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014, prompting the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

But most of the gunmen of the recent hostages are believed to be young men from the Fulani ethnic group who had traditionally worked as nomadic cattle herders before turning to the profitable crime of abducting children for ransom.

While most children have ultimately been released, some have died or were killed in captivity.

About 200 remained hostages before Wednesday's attack, according to UNICEF.

(with wires)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app