At first, the boys thought that the commotion was created by soldiers attempting to defend them.
But the attackers, armed with AK-47 assault weapons, were already in the school, assaulting groups who in an attack that outraged Nigerians, attempted to flee their dorm rooms at Government Science High School.
Forsige previously reported that bandits armed with assault weapons assaulted a high school in Nigeria’s north-western Katsina province and kidnapped hundreds of students.
Usama Aminu was one of the lucky ones. He managed to escape when gunmen abducted more than 300 pupils from his school in northwestern Nigeria.
“When I decided to run they brought a knife to slaughter me but I ran away quickly,” he said, sitting on a mat and speaking softly as he described how he had been in bed at the all-boys school in Kankara when he heard gunshots on Friday night.
“They said they would kill whoever is trying to escape then I began to run, climbing one rock to another through a forest,” Aminu said.
Police said they clashed fire with the perpetrators on Friday, allowing several students to flee for cover.
A Katsina state spokesman said 17 more students were identified on Monday, leaving about 320 students missing.
The president’s office said the government was in communication with the armed men on Monday and was seeking the release of the boys after they were found by security agencies.
“We are making progress and the outlook is positive,” Katsina Governor Aminu Bello Masari told reporters after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, who was visiting his home state.
It is still not clear who the attackers were and the reason for the attack is still unclear to authorities.
Violent gang attacks, commonly known as bandits, are widespread in northwestern Nigeria. The groups strike, rob or capture people for ransom.
Another pupil who got away was Muhammad Abubakar, 15, trekking through farmland and a forest in the dark. He said he was one of 72 boys in the village of Kaikaibise where he ended up reaching safety.
“The bandits called us back. They told us not to run. We started to walk back to them, but as we did, we saw more people coming towards the dormitory,” he told Reuters.
“So I and others ran again. We jumped over the fence and ran through a forest to the nearest village.”
Abubakar, said he saw a number of boys being rounded up before they left the school, which has around 800 students. He’s missing seven of his friends.
When he and his mother, who sells firewood for a living, were reunited, he said, “I never thought I’d see my parents again.”
The raid on Friday rekindled memories of the 2014 abduction of more than 200 girls by the Islamist group Boko Haram from a school in the northeastern town of Chibok.
Around half of those girls have been identified or released since then, hundreds have been paraded in propaganda films, and an undisclosed number are thought to have died.
There was growing outrage at the volatile security situation in the region, considering the steps taken to locate the boys and track down the assailants. #BringBackOurBoys was trending on Twitter on Monday.
Late last month, in northeastern Borno, Islamist militants killed dozens of villagers, beheading some of them.
And in October the country was gripped by some of the worst civil unrest since its return to civilian rule in 1999, following weeks of largely peaceful protests against police brutality in which several demonstrators were shot dead.
The instability that led to the current abduction was the result of bad governance, Oby Ezekwesili, a former government minister and activist who coordinated the Bring Back Our Girls Movement after the Chibok abductions, said.
“Nothing of our government system was available to protect those children,” she said.