At least 300 girls have been abducted by suspected armed bandits from a school hostel in northwest Nigeria’s Zamfara state, according to teacher and parent.
The incident would be the latest mass kidnapping in the troubled region. Abduction for ransom, raping and pillaging by heavily-armed criminal gangs in northwest and central Nigeria has increased in recent years.
“More than 300 girls are unaccounted for after a headcount of remaining students,” a teacher at the Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
A man whose two daughters attend the school corroborated the teacher’s accounts. Sadi Kawaye said he had been told that the school was “invaded by bandits”.
Of 421 students in the school at the time, only 55 remain, another teacher told the BBC. The attack is thought to have happened around 1.00am (midnight GMT).
A spokesman for the state governor confirmed the kidnapping, but declined to say how many people were taken or provide further details.
A police spokesman for the state did not immediately respond to calls and messages seeking comment.
This is the second such kidnapping in a little over a week in Nigeria’s north, where a surge in armed militancy in the northwest has led to a widespread and worsening breakdown of security.
Just over a week ago one student was killed and 42 people, including 27 students, taken from a boarding school in the north-central Nigerian state of Niger by an unidentified gunmen. The hostages are yet to be released.
Over 300 boys were kidnapped from a school in December in Kankara, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, while he was visiting the region.
The incident triggered global outrage. Following negotiations with government officials the boys were later released.