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Presidency downplays number of missing schoolboys, says 10 missing

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Nigerian Government has said the number of missing schoolboys from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, is 10 instead of 333 given by the Katsina State government.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told the BBC that many children had fled, saying only 10 children had been left in the hands of the gunmen.

According to him, the children who escaped from their abductors said only 10 children were in captivity and the number of students identified by the school teachers.

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“Some of the children who fled the bush said that 10 children were being held hostage by the gunmen,” Shehu told BBC.

The number, given by Shehu, is however contrary to the state’s government claims.

“So far we are yet to account for 333 pupils,” Katsina Governor Aminu Masari said on Sunday after a meeting with security officials, adding that the boarding school had a total of 839 students.

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Masari said students who managed to escape the attack have been coming out of hiding in the forest. It is unclear if the students initially hid or they escaped from their attackers.

“Efforts are being made to ascertain the actual number of children that have been kidnapped,” said Masari.

Meanwhile, parents and family members on Sunday gathered at the school, issuing a plea to authorities to bring the missing boys to safety.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the incident is the latest of such attacks by armed bandits in the state.

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Hundreds of people have been killed and kidnapped in violent attacks in Katsina, the home state of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Bihari and other northwest states this year.

All boarding schools in Katsina were ordered to close because officials did not know the attackers’ motives, according to the education commissioner.

The latest attack occurred while President Muhammadu Buhari was on a private visit to Katsina.

In 2018, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 100 girls in the northeastern Nigerian town of Dapchi. And six years ago, in 2014, the same group abducted more than 270 girls in the town of Chibok, Borno State.

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