Unknown gunmen have attacked a school in the northwestern Nigerian state of Zamfara and kidnapped 73 students, just days after three other groups of hostages were freed when large ransom payments were reportedly made in the African country.
The attackers swooped on the Government Day Secondary School in the remote village of Kaya, in the Maradun region of Zamfara State, at 11:22 am local time on Wednesday, according to a police statement.
“The command… has deployed search and rescue team that was mandated to work in synergy with the military to ensure the safe rescue of the abducted students,” Zamfara police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said in the statement.
Police said they had also increased security around Kaya, where 23,000 people live, to prevent further attacks on the community.
Zamfara is among the four states in northwestern Nigeria that have taken measures to try to curb the security crisis in areas where there is not enough police presence.
Gunmen, locally known as “bandits,” have kidnapped more than 1,000 students in more than a dozen attacks on schools or colleges across northwest Nigeria since December 2020. The heavily-armed criminal gangs have demanded large ransom payments from parents. Some of the captives have been released after negotiations with local officials and some others have died or been killed in captivity.
On Friday, 90 students in northern Nigeria were freed after three months of captivity. The children had been abducted along with hundreds of other students by gunmen in a daylight raid on their school in late May.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who promised to tackle insecurity at his inauguration in 2019, is under mounting pressure as kidnappings surge in the impoverished northwest of Nigeria.
Security officials are concerned that the abductors are being infiltrated by Takfiri terrorists. The northern and northeastern parts of the country have been wracked by years of violence involving Boko Haram and other affiliates of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.