Nigerian gunmen have abducted 73 students after storming a high school in the northwest of the country on Wednesday, including a series of large-scale kidnappings targeting students.
Kidnappings for ransom by armed groups have become a serious trend in northwestern and central Nigeria, with nearly 1,000 students being abducted this year – most of them later released.
A large group of gunmen stormed Kaya’s secondary school in the Maradon area of Zamfara State on Wednesday morning and abducted 73 students, state police said in a statement.
“A large number of armed robbers attacked the school after the abduction,” police spokesman Muhammad Sheikh said.
Police rescue teams are working with the army to secure the students’ release, he said.
State Information Commissioner Ibrahim Dosara said Zamfara state officials had imposed roadblocks at night and primary and secondary schools were temporarily closed.
The northwestern and central states have for years been plagued by tot-to-tot attacks and community raids between gypsies and local farmers fighting over water and land.
But with the emergence of major criminal gangs, there has been a sharp rise in violence, with cattle being stolen, raided and looted and kidnapped for ransom.
President Mohammed Bohari, a former soldier who was first elected in 2015, is under pressure from insecurity and the armed forces have launched military raids and airstrikes on dacoit camps, but gunmen continue to carry out attacks and kidnappings. ۔
Four northwestern states, including Zamfara, have introduced restrictions to curb dacoity activities, including restricting motorcycle traffic, restricting fuel sales and suspending cattle markets and transport.
Armed groups often come on motorbikes during kidnapping attacks and cause a stir in the fort.
They work outside camps in the forests of northwestern Nigeria, often raiding and kidnapping in one state and entering another with their victims.
This year, the robbers have set their sights on schools, madrassas and colleges across the region, herding children and students in the jungle and discussing ransom payments.
Many students have been released after spending weeks or months in prison. Dozens are still being held.
Zamfara released 18 students from an agricultural college after abducting them last week in August.
Last week, gunmen released about 1,100 children from an Islamic seminary in northwestern Niger state in May and 32 students from a Kaduna State baptismal school in July.
The bandits seek financial gain and have no ideological leanings, but security experts and officials are increasingly concerned about their relationship with jihadists who have been fighting for 12 years in northeastern Nigeria.
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