Over 300 boys are still missing after gunmen attacked a school in northwestern Nigeria’s Katsina state.
Hundreds of boys fled into the surrounding woods after gunmen stormed the school Friday evening, and many are still unaccounted for, according to the state’s governor, despite Nigerian security officials conducting a weekend-long search.
“So far we are yet to account for 333 pupils,” Gov. Aminu Masari told reporters, according to The Washington Post.
Though the abductions reflected previous raids by the extremist group Boko Haram, officials said that a kidnapping of this size was unprecedented in Katsina. (RELATED: Boko Haram Executes Two People For Smoking Cigarettes)
“I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits’ attack on innocent children,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Saturday. No group had taken responsibility for the kidnapping by Monday, and no deaths had been reported, according to the Post.
One student who escaped the kidnappers remembered overhearing that “no student should be shot or killed” as he was led into the forest. He said that the kidnappers had “too many” students to manage all at once, so he and another boy waited for the gunmen to be distracted then sprinted away into the forest.
The two ran into a man who gave them a ride back to Kankara, the town where the school is located.
Usama Aminu, a student who escaped Nigeria’s mass kidnapping recalls how he ran away from the gang. Hundreds of students are still missing in Nigeria’s Katsina after a raid on their school pic.twitter.com/cOsefnqgBy
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 14, 2020
In 2009, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram began to gain international notoriety by staging mass kidnappings in schools throughout Nigeria. Five years later the group kidnapped 270 schoolgirls in Chibok, a town in the northeastern part of the country.
In response to the kidnapping Friday, authorities closed schools across the country. Though the school and government are investigating the kidnapping and hundreds of students have reappeared after hiding in the surrounding forest, hundreds remain missing, officials said.
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