Bandits armed with assault weapons assaulted a high school in Nigeria’s north-western Katsina province and kidnapped hundreds of students.
The gunmen attacked the Government Science Secondary School – where more than 800 students are said to live – in Katsina state on Friday evening.
On motorbikes, the attackers entered and began firing into the air, forcing residents to run, witnesses said.
At around 9.40 pm, the gunmen raided the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara district, and police returned fire at the scene, allowing some students to flee for cover, a Katsina resident told Forsige during a phone call.
The attack took place in the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, and the police and army were still trying to ascertain how many people were abducted and missing.
Sources and some of the school employee confirmed that about half of the student’s population are missing in northwestern Katsina after the Friday evening attack.
According to a statement from President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian military has found and exchanged fire with gunmen who may have abducted hundreds of high school students in northwestern Katsina province.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits’ attack on innocent children at the Science School, Kankara. Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities and the injured,” the President said.
The result was however uncertain but authorities said there were no reports of students being injured or recovered yet.
On Saturday, there were tense scenes at the school as desperate parents and security workers met to look for around half of the 800 students still missing from the school, one parent and a school employee told Reuters.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s home province, Katsina, is plagued by armed bandits who frequently assault local people and abduct them for ransom.
In the north-eastern parts of the country, attacks by Islamist militants are common.
There has been a number of protests in the country regarding the insecurity challenges, with multiple movements demanding the President’s resignation.
Violence and insecurity have angered people throughout Nigeria, particularly after scores of farmers were killed late last month by Islamist militants in the north-eastern Borno state.
Buhari, who arrived in his home village some 200 km (125 miles) from Kankara on Friday for a fortnight, was expected to brief the national assembly on the security situation last week but without official explanation, canceled the appearance.