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Gunmen kidnap 120 students in northwest Nigeria, school official says


About 140 students are missing after armed men raided a boarding school in Nigeria’s Kaduna state, a parent and an administrator said on Monday, and police said they were in hot pursuit alongside military personnel.
The attack on the Bethel Baptist High School is the 10th mass school kidnapping since December in northwest Nigeria, which authorities have attributed to armed bandits seeking ransom payments.
Dozens of distraught parents gathered at the school compound, some weeping and crying out, standing in groups awaiting news.
Police said gunmen shooting wildly attacked overnight and overpowered the school’s security guards, taking an unspecified number of students into a nearby forest.
A police statement said 26 people including a female teacher had been rescued.
Reverend John Hayab, a founder of the school, told Reuters about 25 students had managed to escape while the school’s other students remained missing.
Roughly 180 students attended the school and were in the process of sitting exams, according to Hayab, whose 17-year-old son escaped, and parent, Hassana Markus, whose daughter was among those missing.
Armed men, known locally as bandits, have made an industry of kidnapping students for ransom in northwest Nigeria, with Kaduna state particularly hard hit.
They have taken nearly 1,000 people from schools since December last year, more than 150 of whom remain missing.
Kidnappers have also targeted roads, private residents and even hospitals; in the early morning hours of Sunday, gunmen abducted six people including a 1-year-old child from a hospital in Kaduna state.
The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF estimates that more than about 1,120 schools are closed across northwestern Nigeria. Even where schools are open, some parents are too afraid to send their children. Some 300,000-400,000 students in the region are out of school because of insecurity, UNICEF said.

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