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Nigeria: Troops deployed to rescue more than 250 kidnapped schoolchildren

In this photo, army vehicles are seen parked outside the school in Kuriga, Kaduna state, Nigeria where gunmen kidnapped over 250 children from a school on March 7, 2024. (By AP)

Nigeria’s president has ordered the deployment of the country’s troops to rescue hundreds of pupils kidnapped from a school in the country’s northwest.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu sent the troops on Friday to rescue more than 250 children taken by gunmen in one of the largest mass abductions across the country in three years.

Local officials confirmed the attack on a school in the north-western town of Kuriga in Kaduna state on Thursday, but they have still not given figures as they said they were still working out how many children had been abducted.

A teacher at the girls’ secondary school in Chikun district said staff had managed to escape with many students when the gunmen known locally as bandits attacked early Thursday firing in the air.

Sani Abdullahi told local officials that 187 students had been taken from the main junior school along with another 100 from the primary classes.

Three local residents also said between 200 and 280 children and teachers had been snatched.

“Early in the morning... we heard gunshots from bandits, before we knew it they had gathered up the children,” local resident Musa Mohammed told media. “We are pleading to the government, all of us are pleading, they should please help us with security.”

The local residents reported that at least one person was shot dead during the attack as he tried to save the students.

Armed criminal gangs on motorbikes demanding ransom money target victims in villages and schools and along highways have been wreaking havoc in Kaduna.

Local residents blame the kidnapping on lack of security in the area.

Last week, mass abductions were also reported at refugee camps in northeast Borno state.

Tinubu, who hails from a merchant family in Lagos and rose to power last year, has promised to make Nigeria safer and bring in more foreign investments.

“I have received briefing from security chiefs on the two incidents, and I am confident that the victims will be rescued,” Tinubu said in a statement ordering Nigeria’s armed forces to track down the kidnappers.

Tinubu insisted, “Nothing else is acceptable to me and the waiting family members of these abducted citizens. Justice will be decisively administered.”

In 2014, Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 250 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state.

Many of the school girls later returned to their families. However, some of them are still missing after almost 10 years.

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