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Policeman killed, students kidnapped in armed attack on school in Nigeria's volatile northwest

A view shows an empty classroom with school bags and wares belonging to pupils at the Government Science school where gunmen abducted students, in Kankara, in northwestern Katsina state, Nigeria, December 15, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Unidentified gunmen in Nigeria have killed a police officer and abducted five teachers as well as an unspecified number of students from a school in the country’s volatile northwest.

The incident took place after the armed assailants attacked a secondary school in the remote town of Birnin Yauri in Nigeria's northwestern state of Kebbi on Thursday, according to police and local residents.

Nafiu Abubakar, a spokesman for the police in Kebbi State, said one officer was killed during an exchange of fire between police and the gunmen, and a student was shot and receiving medical treatment.

“We are still trying to ascertain the number of students kidnapped but five teachers were kidnapped,” Abubakar said, adding that security forces were searching a nearby forest for the abducted students and teachers.

Atiku Aboki, a local resident who went to the school shortly after the attack, said he witnessed a scene of panic and confusion as people searched for their children.

“When we got there we saw students crying, teachers crying, everyone is sympathizing with people,” he said by telephone. “Everyone was confused. Then my brother called me (to say) that his two children have not been seen and (we) don’t know if they are among the kidnapped.”

The Thursday attack was the latest in a series of group kidnappings at schools in northwest Nigeria, which the authorities have blamed on armed bandits seeking ransom payments.

More than 800 Nigerian students have been kidnapped from their schools since December. Some have been freed while others remain missing.

On May 30, armed bandits kidnapped an unknown number of students from an Islamic school in central Nigeria, with reports saying between 150-200 boys and girls aged six to eighteen were at the school when the assault happened.

Moreover, 14 of the students who had been abducted from a university in northwestern Nigeria were released after 40 days in captivity last month.

In yet another incident on April 20, gunmen, locally known as “bandits,” stormed Greenfield University and kidnapped around 20 students.

A member of the school's staff were killed in the attack.

Five of the students were executed a few days after the abduction to force families and the government to pay a ransom. A total ransom of 180 million naira ($440,000) was paid for their release, according to the media.

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