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UPDATE 5-Gunmen abduct 30 students in northwest Nigeria as payoffs 'boomerang'

GlobalMar 12, 2021 15:06
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© Reuters.

* Resident reports hearing gunshots
* Around 30 students kidnapped, 180 rescued, official says
* Fourth such abduction since December

(Adds quotes, details of broken wall)
By Garba Muhammad
KADUNA, Nigeria, March 12 (Reuters) - Gunmen kidnapped
around 30 students in an overnight raid on a forestry college in
northwest Nigeria, an official said on Friday, the fourth mass
school abduction since December in a country where violence is
on the increase.
An armed gang broke into the Federal College of Forestry
Mechanization, located on the outskirts of Kaduna city near a
military academy, at around 11:30 p.m. (2230 GMT) on Thursday,
Kaduna state's security commissioner, Samuel Aruwan said.
After a distress call, the army rescued 180 people in the
early hours of Friday but "about 30 students, a mix of males and
females, are yet to be accounted for", he said.
"A combined team of army, air force, police and DSS
(Department of State Services) troops are conducting an
operation to track the missing students."
The city is the capital of Kaduna state, part of a region
where banditry has festered for years. Hours before the
kidnapping, Nigeria's federal government said it would "take
out" abductors after earlier criticising local deals to free
Kaduna resident Haruna Salisu said he had heard sporadic
gunshots at around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday from the area of the
compound, where the concrete perimeter wall had a large hole in
it on Friday.
"We were not panicking, thinking that it was a normal
military exercise being conducted at the (nearby) Nigerian
Defence Academy," he said by phone.
"We came out for dawn prayers, at 5:20 a.m., and saw some of
the students, teachers and security personnel all over the
school premises. They told us that gunmen raided the school and
abducted some of the students."
On Friday morning, relatives of students gathered at the
gates of the college, which was surrounded by around 20 army

The trend of abduction from boarding schools was started by
the jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 270 schoolgirls from
a school at Chibok in the northeast in 2014. Around 100 of them
have never been found.
Armed criminal gangs seeking ransom have since carried out
copycat attacks.
Within the last few weeks, 279 schoolgirls were freed after
being abducted from their boarding school at Jangebe in
northwest Nigeria's Zamfara state. In the north-central state of
Niger, 27 teenage boys were released after being kidnapped from
their school, along with three staff and 12 family members. One
student was shot dead in that attack. Military and police attempts to tackle the gangs have had
little success, while many worry that state authorities are
making the situation worse by letting kidnappers go unpunished,
paying them off or providing incentives.
In Zamfara, state government officials said they had given
'reformed bandits' access to land for cattle grazing, while also
building schools and medical facilities. They do not
specifically identify the recipients as kidnappers.
In late February, the presidency said President Muhammadu
Buhari had urged state governments to "review their policy of
rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the
policy might boomerang disastrously".
Buhari held talks with security officials and traditional
leaders on Thursday to discuss the country's multiple security
challenges. The national security adviser, Babagana Monguno,
after the talks said the government would take a tough stance on
criminal gangs. "The new direction of government is to come out with full
force. We have decided to apply the full weight of the law. We
will come down on them wherever we locate them and take them
out," he told reporters in the capital, Abuja, without providing
further details.
The unrest has become a political problem for Buhari, a
retired general and former military ruler who has faced mounting
criticism over the rise in violent crime, and replaced his
long-standing military chiefs earlier this year.

FACTBOX-The violence and insecurity affecting Nigeria

UPDATE 5-Gunmen abduct 30 students in northwest Nigeria as payoffs 'boomerang'

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