Nigeria: Armed bandits kidnap at least 140 children in Kaduna state

Armed bandits kidnapped at least 140 school going children in the north-west of the country, police said.

On Monday, reports emerged of another mass kidnapping from a school near Kaduna city, about 80km south-west of Zaria.

In a statement, police said gunmen “overpowered the school’s security guards and made their way into the students’ hostel where they abducted an unspecified number of students into the forest”.

A total of 26 people had been rescued, the statement said.

Earlier on Sunday, at least eight people were also abducted from the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre in Zaria. Two nurses and a 12-month-old child were among those seized, said a hospital worker.

Police said gunmen involved in the hospital attack in Zaria, thought to be from criminal groups known locally as “bandits”, opened fire on a police station in the city.

While they were engaged in the shootout, another group attacked the hospital.

“The attack on the police station was a distraction whilst another group attacked the dormitories of the health centre workers,” a local resident told AFP news agency.

The group escaped with the victims into a nearby forest.

More than 1,000 students have been taken since December and nine have been killed. More than 200 students are still missing, some of them as young as three.

Authorities say recent attacks on schools in the north-west have been carried out by bandits, a loose term for kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers and other armed militia operating in the region who are largely motivated by money.