Gunmen kidnap primary school pupils in Nigeria’s Kaduna state

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People inside the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Nigeria, Saturday Dec. 12, 2020. Kidnappers have released the remaining 29 students they were holding captive after abducting them in March from a forestry college in Nigeria's Kaduna state the head of the parents' association told Reuters. Photo/Abdullatif Yusuf/AP

Gunmen kidnapped primary school pupils and teachers in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kaduna, a state official said on Monday, in the fifth school abduction since December in a country where violence is on the rise.

Kaduna state’s security commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, said on Monday, that the state government has received reports of kidnapping of pupils and teachers in Birnin Gwari local government area.

“The Kaduna State Government is currently obtaining details on the actual number of pupils and teachers reported to have been kidnapped and will issue a comprehensive statement as soon as possible,” Aruwan said in a statement.

The trend of abduction from boarding schools was started by the jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 270 girls from a school in Chibok in the northeast of the country in 2014. Around 100 of them have never been found. Armed criminal gangs seeking ransoms have since carried out copycat attacks.

The city is the capital of Kaduna state, part of a region where banditry has festered for years. Nigeria’s federal government has said it would “take out” abductors after criticizing local deals to free victims.

Referring to the latest attack, Sarkin Mota, a resident, told Reuters his son was among those kidnapped as well as three of his teachers.

“(They) were kidnapped early this morning when the teachers and pupils were coming to school,” Mota said. “We are in state of panic,” he said, referring to other parents when they received the news.

Armed men attempted to kidnap more students in Kaduna state overnight on Sunday, as 39 others from an earlier attack in the state remain missing.

Attempts by the military and police to tackle the gangs have had little success, while many worry that state authorities are making the situation worse by letting kidnappers go unpunished, paying them off or providing incentives.

The unrest has become a political problem for Buhari, a retired general and former military ruler who has faced mounting criticism over the rise in violent crime, and replaced his long-standing military chiefs earlier this year.

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