Hundreds of students in Nigeria remain missing after gunmen stormed a secondary school in the northern state of Katsina, authorities said.
According to a statement from Katsina State Police Command spokesperson Gambo Isah, around 9:40 pm, a group of gunmen wielding assault rifles rushed into the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, shot their AK-47 rifles in the air and rounded up students.
Isah said officers engaged the assailants in a gunfight which gave some of the students “the opportunity to scale the fence of the school and run for safety.” However, many were taken by the gunmen.
After a meeting with security officials, Katsina state Gov. Aminu Bello Masari said that of the 839 students enrolled at the school, 333 are still missing. However, at this time, it is unclear how many were abducted and how many others fled during the attack.
The shootings around the school “sent hundreds of them fleeing and scrambling over the perimeter walls,” said Garba Shehu, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari.
The military tracked the attackers and exchanged gunfire with them in a forest in Kankara, Shehu said Saturday.
No student casualties have been reported, although one officer was shot during the attackers’ raid on the school on Friday and taken to a hospital, the police said.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged school officials to carry out an audit of the student population to ascertain the exact number of those missing and those who have been found.
“Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities and the injured,” Buhari said in a statement Saturday.
The apparent kidnappers are making a demands via a teacher at school, Abdu Labaran, the director general of media for the governor of Nigeria’s Katsina state, said Monday.”
The abductors of the Kankara students have contacted a teacher and asked him to tell the government to stop the helicopter surveillance. “They have not asked for ransom,” said Labaran, who added that the military had deployed in the area to search for the boys.