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Kidnappers abduct schoolchildren in northwest Nigeria

AFRICA
By Reuters | February 26th 2021

An empty classroom at the Government Science College in the Nigerian state of Niger, where 42 people were kidnapped by gunmen last week. [Courtesy]

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a number of schoolgirls from the town of Jangebe in northwest Nigeria early on Friday, a state spokesman said, the second such kidnapping in little over a week.

It was not immediately clear how many children had been seized, Sulaiman Tanau Anka, information commissioner for Zamfara state, told Reuters.

The kidnapping took place about midnight, he said.

“Unknown gunmen came shooting sporadically and took the girls away,” Anka said.

“Information available to me said they came with vehicles and moved the students, they also moved some on foot,” Anka said.

Security forces were hunting through the area, he added.

A surge in armed militancy in the northwest has led to a breakdown of security in the north of Africa’s most populous country. 

Last week, unidentified gunmen killed a student in an overnight attack on a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger and kidnapped 42 people, including 27 students. The hostages are yet to be released.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the north by criminal gangs carrying out robberies and kidnappings. The country is also struggling to contain Islamist insurgencies in the northeast and communal violence over grazing rights in central states.

In the most notorious kidnapping in Nigeria in recent years, Boko Haram militants abducted 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno state in April 2014. They were eventually rescued by security forces or escaped.

President Muhammadu Buhari replaced his long-standing military chiefs earlier this month amid worsening violence, with the armed forces fighting to reclaim northeastern towns overrun by insurgents.

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