2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks after security forces rescued school children from kidnappers, in Katsina, Nigeria 2/2
By Hamza Ibrahim KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) – Unidentified gunmen abducted several schoolgirls from the northwestern Nigerian city of Jangebe early Friday, a state spokesman said, the second such abduction in just over one week. It was not immediately clear how many children had been abducted in the midnight raid on the Jangebe government girls’ secondary school, Zamfara state information commissioner Sulaiman Tanau Anka told Reuters. “Unknown gunmen came shooting sporadically and took the girls away,” Anka said. “The information that I have says that they came with vehicles and transferred the students, they also transferred some on foot.” Security forces were hunting in the area, he added. Police, military and intelligence services did not respond to calls seeking comment. A surge in armed militancy in the northwest has led to a security breakdown in the north of Africa’s most populous country, where school kidnappings are becoming endemic. The increase is due in part to large government payments in exchange for the children, authorities said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Nigerian government regularly denies such payments. Last week, unidentified gunmen killed a student in a night attack on a boarding school in north-central Niger state, abducting 42 people, including 27 students. The hostages have not yet been released. In December, dozens of gunmen abducted 344 school children from the city of Kankara, in the northwestern state of Katsina. They were released after six days, but the government denied that a ransom had been paid. The Islamic State branch in West Africa kidnapped more than 100 schoolchildren from the city of Dapchi in northeast Nigeria in 2018, all but one, a Christian, were released. A ransom was paid, according to the United Nations. Perhaps the most notorious kidnapping in recent years was when Boko Haram militants abducted 276 school children from Chibok city in Borno state in April 2014. The incident attracted global attention and several prominent figures called for their release. Most have been found or rescued by the army, or released in negotiations between the government and Boko Haram, also for a considerable ransom. About 100 are still missing, either with Boko Haram or dead, security officials say. Hundreds of people have been killed in the north by criminal gangs that carry out robberies and kidnappings. The country is also struggling to contain Islamist insurgencies in the northeast and community violence for grazing rights in the central states. President Muhammadu Buhari replaced his longtime military chiefs earlier this month amid escalating violence, with the armed forces fighting to recapture northeastern cities overrun by insurgents.