ABUJA, Nigeria: The Boko Haram group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of hundreds of school students in northwest Nigeria.
More than 300 students are missing after gunmen on motorcycles stormed the Government Science School in Kankara late on Friday and engaged security forces in a fierce gun battle, forcing hundreds of students to flee and hide in surrounding bushes and forest.
“I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in Katsina,” said the leader of the group behind the 2014 abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Chibok, in a voice message on Tuesday.
A joint rescue operation was launched Saturday by Nigeria’s police, air force and army, according to the government.
On Sunday, parents and family members gathered at the school, issuing a plea to authorities to bring the missing boys to safety.
“If it’s not government that will help us, we have no power to rescue our children,” Murja Mohammed, whose son was taken, told the Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities are stepping up efforts to rescue more than 300 students abducted by armed men who raided their hostels.
Some of the returning students debriefed by the military disclosed that 10 of their colleagues were taken by the bandits. As I said to the BBC, that still needed to be verified.
— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) December 14, 2020
Gunmen on motorcycles stormed the Government Science School in Kankara late on Friday and engaged security forces in a fierce gun battle, forcing hundreds of students to flee and hide in surrounding bushes and forest.
State Governor Aminu Bello Masari, who visited the school on Saturday, said soldiers were working to locate and free the hostages.
Related story: Over 300 students missing after Nigeria school attack
Since the attack, all secondary schools in the state have been shut.
The Nigerian presidency is now saying that some of the returning students debriefed by the military disclosed that 10 of their fellow students were taken by the bandits.
“Of course this is different from saying that all the others had been accounted for. The forests and neighbouring villages are being searched and parents are being contacted for information about their children,” Garba Shehu, president Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, said on Twitter.
Cited by local media, Shehu earlier said that only 10 boys were still missing.
The Nigerian presidency has refuted claims by Katsina Governor Bello Masari that more than 300 children are still held in captivity by bandits.
The presidency said only 10 boys were still missing, according to reports monitored by a local newspaper The Punch.
Garba Shehu, president Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, in a radio interview said government security agencies have surrounded the place and the remaining boys will be rescued soon.