KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Unidentified gunmen attacked a secondary school in Nigeria’s Niger state overnight and abducted many students, the state governor’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
The attackers stormed the Government Science college in the Kagara district at around 2 a.m., overwhelming the school’s security detail, local residents said.
The spokeswoman said a mass abduction of students had occurred, without specifying how many had been taken.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack.
Militant Islamist group Boko Haram and a branch of Islamic State are active in northern Nigeria, but kidnappings by other armed groups – mostly for ransom – are also common.
A spokesman for rights group Amnesty International said he had spoken to parents of the Kagara students, who confirmed the attack.
It happened two months after gunmen stormed a secondary school in northwestern Katsina state and kidnapped nearly 350 boys, who security forces subsequently rescued.
About 100 of more than 270 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok in 2014 remain in captivity.
That has been a factor in fuelling widespread criticism over spreading violence by Islamist insurgents and armed gangs, which prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a new military high command in January.
The violence and insecurity have compounded the economic challenges faced by citizens in Africa’s most populous country, which is struggling to cope with a fall in revenues due to an oil price slump on top of COVID-19.
The Niger state governor will address the media on Wednesday, his spokeswoman said.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has dispatched security chiefs to coordinate rescue operations for students abducted by unidentified gunmen in the northern state of Niger on Wednesday, his spokesman said.
Buhari condemned the school abduction, the spokesman said in a statement, adding that they were yet to ascertain the number of staff and students abducted by the gunmen