Hundreds of students were still missing on Saturday, a day after gunmen attacked a school in the northern Nigerian state of Katsina where President Muhammadu Buhari hails from.
Police spokesman Gambo Isah said gunmen, armed with rifles, attacked the Government Science secondary school in Kankara town, Katsina state, late on Friday, and took away many students.
“Search parties are working with a view to find or rescue the missing students,” a police statement said.
Reuters news agency quoted a parent and school employee as saying that roughly half of the school’s 800 students were missing.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday condemned the attack and charged the army and the police “to go after the attackers to ensure that no student gets missing or harmed”, the presidency said in a statement.
The President urged the school authorities to carry out an audit of the population of the students following shootings in and around the school that sent hundreds of them fleeing and scrambling over perimeter walls. Parents who rushed to the school and removed their children and wards were also required to notify the school and police authorities in order to have a full account of the school population.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits’ attack on innocent children at the Science School, Kankara. Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities and the injured,” said President Buhari while pledging to continue to support the police and military struggle against terrorists and bandits.
“In the latest briefing received by the President from Governor Aminu Bello Masari, with whom he has been in touch, and the Army Chief of Staff, General Tukur Buratai, the military, supported by air power has located the bandits’ enclave at Zango/Paula forest in Kankara and there have been exchange of fire in an ongoing operation. Police said so far, there has not been reported any student casualty,” Garba Shehu, a Senior Special Assistant to the President, said in a statement.
Shedu said the President has directed the reinforcement of security of all schools in line with the safe schools policy of the administration.
The abduction comes six years after hundreds of students were abducted in the northern Nigerian town of Chibok, Borno state, in February 2014.