More than 300 students have disappeared after the attack on their school in northern Nigeria

Alert about a possible mass kidnapping of students in a school in Nigeria.

Some 345 students are unaccounted for, according to security sources, after gunmen attacked a boarding school in northwestern Nigeria on Friday night, in what authorities fear could become a new mass kidnapping by gangs. of criminals.

Men armed with AK-47 rifles fired into the air at the facilities of the Government Science High School in the northern state of Katsina, causing panic and terror among some 800 students, according to the estimate of several teachers. So far, just over 400 students have been located, according to local authorities.

According to anonymous security sources, quoted by local media TheCable, on Saturday night 345 students were still missing, although some could remain refugees in wooded areas, in their homes or have returned without being counted to nearby towns.

“The students were being (forcibly) taken from the school when Nigerian Army troops arrived and a shooting started. This caused some students to escape while the bandits left with others. It was a very disturbing scenario,” police sources described today to the local media ThePunch.

Temporary closure of all state boarding schools

For his part, the governor of Katsina, Aminu Bello Masari, announced at a press conference near the school, located in the city of Kankara, the temporary closure of all state boarding schools, and asked the parents of the disappeared for patience. that were crowding around.

“We want to assure you that we will do everything possible to rescue the schoolchildren,” he said last night in the Hausa Masari language, “as we speak, the soldiers are in the bush facing the bandits. I beg you to be patient, we will rescue the children.”

According to the governor, the alleged perpetrators of this armed attack would have their base in the Zango / Paula forested area in Kankara, where since last night they would be fighting the Nigerian forces militarily by land and air.

“The military operation has the support of the air corps. The president (Muhammadu Buhari) has asked the security members that the attackers be neutralized and that no student disappear or be injured,” the Nigerian Presidency confirmed yesterday in a message from condemns through his Twitter account.

Continued attacks and kidnappings and 1,126 people killed since January

This attack in the punished state of Katsina comes eight days after the jihadist group Boko Haram massacred more than 100 farmers in the state of Borno (northeast), setting off all the alarms of a growing insecurity in the north of the country.

“The terrible attacks against rural communities in northern Nigeria have been repeated for years. The continued failure of the security forces to take the necessary measures to protect locals from these predictable attacks is absolutely disgraceful,” he said yesterday in a statement was made by the director of Amnesty International (AI) Nigeria, Osai Ojigho.

Since January 2020, this organization has documented an alarming escalation of attacks and kidnappings in several states in northwestern and north-central Nigeria – including Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara – with at least 1,126 people killed by armed groups, according to a report in late August.

A conflict involving criminal groups and jihadists

Northwest Nigeria is suffering from a conflict involving a myriad of nomadic herder militias, armed groups, criminals and jihadists, in whose attacks more than 8,000 people have perished since 2011, according to data from the International Crisis Group (ICG), while that more than 200,000 have been displaced, almost a third of them to neighboring Niger.

On social media, some Nigerians have already started using the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys (“bring back our boys”), in a clear allusion to the international campaign “Bring back our girls” used after the 2014 kidnapping of 276 under a boarding school in Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria, run by Boko Haram.

To this day, the whereabouts of at least 112 of the girls are still unknown.