Gunmen abducted 30 students from a forestry college near a military academy, in the fourth mass school abduction since December, officials said.
The latest abduction took place around 11:30pm on Thursday at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, in the Igabi local government area of Kaduna state, police said.
“About 30 students, a mix of males and females, are yet to be accounted for,” the state’s commissioner for International Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement on Friday. Several staff of the school were also kidnapped, he added.
The college sits on the outskirts of Kaduna city, capital of Kaduna state, in a region roamed by armed gangs, who often travel on motorcycles.
The is the first time thay gunmen have kidnapped higher education students.
Authorities are yet to ascertain which group is behind the kidnapping.
On Friday morning, relatives of students gathered at the gates of the college, which was surrounded by about 20 army trucks.
Resident Haruna Salisu, speaking by phone, told Reuters news agency he had heard sporadic gunshots at about 11:30pm local time.
“We were not panicking, thinking that it was a normal military exercise being conducted at the Nigerian Defence Academy,” he said.
“We came out for dawn prayers, at 5:20am, 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.”
Salisu said he had seen military personnel taking the remaining students into the academy.
Several criminal gangs in northwestern and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent years.
The Nigerian military deployed to the area in 2016 and a peace deal with bandits was signed in 2019 but attacks have continued.
Within the last few weeks, 279 schoolgirls were freed after being abducted from their boarding school at Jangebe in northwest Nigeria’s Zamfara state, and 27 teenage boys were released after being kidnapped from their school in the north-central state of Niger, along with three staff and 12 family members. One student was shot dead in that attack.
Before that, in December, more than 300 boys were kidnapped from a school in Kankara, in President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, while the president was visiting the region.
The boys were later released but the incident triggered outrage and memories of the kidnappings of at least 276 schoolgirls by the Boko Haram armed group in Chibok in 2014 that shocked the world. Many of those girls are still missing.