Nigerian official says 42 taken in new kidnap tally
Gunmen have abducted 42 people, including 27 students, from a school in central Nigeria, a local government official said Wednesday, downplaying initial reports that hundreds had been taken.
“They kidnapped 42 people from the school. They took away 27 students, along with three teachers. They also kidnapped 12 family members of the teachers,” Muhammad Sani Idris, spokesman for Niger state’s government, told AFP by phone.
One student was killed, Idris added.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement earlier, condemned the abductions and ordered a rescue operation but did not confirm how many students were missing.
At least 650 students had been in the school when it was attacked late Tuesday by gunmen believed to belong to criminal gangs.
“The President has directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure the immediate and safe return of all the captives,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
The president urged Nigeria’s security forces “to do all that can be done to bring an end to this saga, and avoid such cowardly attacks on schools in the future.”
Heavily-armed gangs known locally as “bandits” active in the northwest and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent years, kidnapping for ransom, raping and pillaging.
Only two months ago, more than 300 students were kidnapped in nearby Katsina state.
The boys were later released but the incident sparked global outrage.
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