By Vatican News staff writer
An armed group abducted scores of students from an Islamic school in the northcentral Nigerian state of Niger on Sunday, according to authorities.
Reports say that about 200 children were seized during the attack, even though an official number has not been given.
The gunmen reportedly attacked the town of Tegina, in the Rafi local government area of the state, riding on motorcycles and shooting indiscriminately. They then abducted the students from the Salihu Tanko Islamic school.
One person was reportedly killed during the raid and a second person was seriously injured, authorities said.
Concern of authorities
In a series of tweets late Sunday, the Niger state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, expressed outrage at the “escalating level of banditry in the state” and called on the federal government for prompt intervention.
Governor Bello appealed for calm and restated the government's resolve to “continue to protect the lives and property of the citizens as a matter of utmost importance and priority.” He also assured that a joint military task force was already working to track the kidnappers.
Meanwhile, another tweet noted that 11 children who were too young and could not engage in the long walk enforced on the abducted students were released by the gunmen.
The government also informed that some passengers in a bus traveling to Minna, Niger state, were among the kidnap victims.
Rising state of insecurity
The frequency of kidnappings is rising in Nigeria, especially in the north, because abduction is fast becoming a growth industry amid the nation’s economic crisis. More recently, the victims are increasingly schoolchildren and University students – not just the rich or famous.
Armed groups have repeatedly attacked schools and universities in northwest Nigeria, kidnapping more than 700 students for ransom since December last year.
This latest abduction came a day after 14 students from Greenfield University in northwest Nigeria, were released, after spending more than a month in captivity.
Gunmen had stormed the University in Kaduna State on 20 April, killing one person during the raid and injuring others.
Though it is uncertain if any ransom was paid, the kidnappers had demanded hundreds of thousands in dollars in ransom, and had even killed five other students to pressure the remaining students’ parents to raise the money.
In a separate abduction in February, nearly 300 girls were seized from a boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara. Most of them were later freed.