Gunmen kidnap more than 200 from Nigerian school

More than 200 school children were kidnapped in north-west Nigeria after gunmen stormed Kuriga School on Thursday in one of the country’s largest mass abduction. Picture: AFP

More than 200 school children were kidnapped in north-west Nigeria after gunmen stormed Kuriga School on Thursday in one of the country’s largest mass abduction. Picture: AFP

Published Mar 8, 2024


Gunmen have kidnapped more than 200 pupils during a raid on a school in northwest Nigeria, a teacher and local residents said, in one of the country's largest mass abductions.

Kidnappings for ransom are common in Africa's most populous country, where heavily armed criminal gangs have targeted schools and colleges in the past, especially in the northwest, though such attacks have abated recently.

Local government officials in Kaduna State confirmed the kidnapping attack on Kuriga school on Thursday, but gave no figures as they said they were still working out how many children had been abducted.

At least one person was shot dead during the attack, local residents said.

Sani Abdullahi, one of the teachers at the GSS Kuriga school in the Chikun district, said staff managed to escape with many students when the gunmen attacked the building early on Thursday firing gunshots in the air.

"We began working to determine the actual figure of those kidnapped," he told local state officials visiting the school.

"In GSS Kuriga, 187 children are missing, while in the primary school, 125 children were missing but 25 returned."

Local resident Muhammad Adam also told AFP more than 280 have been kidnapped.

"Early in the morning, before we got up, we heard gunshots from bandits, before we knew it they had gathered up the children and taken away the students and their teachers, almost 200 people," another local resident Musa Mohammed said.

"We are pleading to the government, all of us are pleading, they should please help us with security."

Mohammed and another resident also said around 200 people were abducted.

'No child left behind'

Local officials and police did not give any figures for the kidnapped. Often figures of those reported kidnapped or missing in Nigeria are lowered after people fleeing the attack return home.

"As of this moment we have not been able to know the number of children or students that have been kidnapped," Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani told reporters in Kuriga on Thursday.

"No child will be left behind."

Hundreds of schoolchildren and college students have been kidnapped in mass abductions in the country's northwest and central region, including in Kaduna, in the last few years.

Almost all were released for ransom payments after weeks or months spent in captivity in camps hidden in forests that stretch across northwestern states.

Amnesty International condemned the abductions in Kaduna.

"Schools should be places of safety, and no child should have to choose between their education and their life," the rights group said on X, formerly Twitter.

"The Nigerian authorities must take measures immediately to prevent attacks on schools, to protect children's lives and their right to education."

Since coming to office in May, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made reducing insecurity one of his priorities, but Nigeria's armed forces are battling on several fronts, including against a long-running jihadist insurgency in the northeast of the country.

More than 100 people were missing after militants carried out a mass kidnapping last week targeting women and children in a camp for those displaced by the conflict in the northeast.

Last September, gunmen abducted more than 30 people, including 24 female students, in a raid in and around a university in northwest Zamfara State.

In February 2021, bandits raided a girls' boarding school in the town of Jangebe in Zamfara, kidnapping more than 300 students.