At least 317 schoolgirls were abducted by bandits in the Friday morning raid on Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, in Zamfara State, the police have said.
Residents said the bandits woke up people in the neighbourhood as they raided the school, shooting into the air for over two hours.
The latest attack is the third mass kidnapping of schoolchildren in the last three months in Northern Nigeria, raising fears among Nigerians in rural communities.
“317 students were kidnapped by the armed bandits in Government Girls Science Secondary School Jangebe in Talata Mafara,” Mohammad Shehu, the police spokesperson in the state told newsmen.
He said the police and the military had begun a joint search for the students and their kidnappers.
“The Commissioner of Police, CP Abutu Yaro fdc, the Force Commander Operations Hadarin Daji, Major General Aminu Bande, Brigade Commander 1 Brigade, Nigeria Army, Gusau and other state government officials led a heavily armed Re-enforcement team to Jangebe,” he said.
This, Mr Shehu said, was to complement ongoing rescue efforts in the locations where the students were believed to have been taken by their captors.
He also appealed for calmness while assuring that the students will be rescued.
Earlier, the state government had confirmed the mass abduction to newsmen, but said it did not know the number of students kidnapped.
Zamfara in Northwest Nigeria is one of the states most affected by bandits’ attacks. The attacks have continued despite negotiations initiated by the state government with the bandits.
The latest attack occurred just over a week after 27 students and 15 others were abducted by armed bandits from a school in Niger State.
Those abducted persons are yet to be released at the time of this report.