The school was enrolling about 200 children at the time of the attack but several managed to escape, one of the leaders said.
« A number of students from the Salihu Tanko Islamic School were abducted along with passengers on a bus » after gunmen attacked their school, the Nigerian state government said on its Twitter account.
« The kidnappers released 11 children, who were too small to walk, » the government added, denouncing the « unfortunate » event and the rise in kidnappings for ransom across the central and northern parts of Africa’s most populous country.
The Salihu Tanko Koranic school was enrolling about 200 children at the time of the attack but several managed to escape, said one of the leaders, who wishes to remain anonymous for his safety. « At first they took more than 100 students, but then they left those they considered too small, those between 4 and 12 years old, » he told Agence France-Presse, adding that he did not have precise figures on the number of children kidnapped.
730 children and adolescents kidnapped since December
This new kidnapping comes a day after the release of 14 students in Kaduna State (north), after forty days in detention. Five students were executed by their captors in the days following their kidnapping to put pressure on the families and force the government to pay a ransom. In the local press, families claimed that they had to pay a total of 180 million naira (357,000 euros) to find their children.
These armed gangs, whose members are commonly known as « bandits » in this region, terrorise people in central and north-western Nigeria, looting villages, stealing livestock and carrying out mass kidnappings for ransom.
For several months now, these bandits have mainly been carrying out mass kidnappings targeting schools: 730 children and adolescents have already been abducted since December 2020.