More than 300 schoolchildren abducted in northern Nigeria on Friday were still missing by Monday, even as government said troops had surrounded the area where the gunmen are believed to be holding them.
About 800 pupils were enrolled at the all-boys school and roughly half of them remained unaccounted for by Monday, three days after they were kidnapped.
Where and when were the Nigerian schoolchildren abducted?
Police spokesman Gambo Isah said on Saturday that the gunmen, armed with rifles, attacked the Government Science secondary school in Kankara area, Katsina state, late on Friday, and took away many students.
How many of the Nigerian schoolchildren still missing?
It was not clear how many students were abducted, and how many ran away during the attack, but multiple reports said on Monday that about 300 of them were still missing. An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari said the attackers are thought to be seeking ransom.
Where are the abducted Nigerian schoolchildren now?
The military said on Saturday that it had located the gunmen’s hideout in a forest. It said it had exchanged fire with them and they were surrounded.
One of President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesmen Garba Shehu told the BBC on Saturday that troops had been deployed to rescue the abducted children.
“Military commanders on the ground have the coordinates of where they believe the bandits are, and whoever they are holding. They have surrounded all of that area,” Shehu said.
What is the United Nations saying about abducted schoolchildren in Nigeria?
In a statement from New York, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General said “the Secretary-General strongly condemns the December 11 attack on a secondary school in Katsina State, Nigeria, and the reported abduction of hundreds of boys by suspected armed bandits.”
“The Secretary-General calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted childrenand for their safe return to their families. He reiterates that attacks on schools and other educational facilities constitute a grave violation of human rights. He urges the Nigerian authorities to bring those responsible for this act to justice.
“The Secretary-General reaffirms the solidarity and support of the United Nations to the Government and people of Nigeria in their fight against terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime.”
What is President Buhari doing about the kidnapped Nigerian schoolchildren?
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.