Gunmen invaded a boarding school in Niger State in northern Nigeria Tuesday night, kidnapping "hundreds of students" and several teachers, a local official and a security source told AFP.
"Bandits entered the government college in Kagara last night and abducted hundreds of students and their teachers," said a local official in the area, who asked to remain anonymous.
"One of the staff and some of the students managed to escape. The staff confirmed that one student had been shot" during the attack, the official added.
The mass abduction comes two months after criminal groups abducted 344 teenagers from a boarding school in neighboring Katsina State. After negotiations with the authorities, the students were released a week later.
On Tuesday evening, "bandits entered the government college in Kagara and abducted hundreds of students and their teachers," said a local official in the area, who asked to remain anonymous.
These "very many" armed men, dressed in military uniforms, then took the students into the forest, according to this source.
"One of the staff and some of the students managed to escape. The staff confirmed that one student had been shot" during the attack, this official added.
The secondary school has approximately 1,000 students, but the exact number of teenagers abducted is not known at this time.
"A count is underway to establish the exact number of students kidnapped. We hope that all those who have fled the school will come back for the count," a security source said.
Kidnappings for ransom, fighters
Military personnel with air support were searching for the kidnappers and hostages in preparation for a possible rescue operation, the source said.
For nearly a decade, northwestern and central Nigeria has been plagued by violence from criminal groups known locally as "bandits", who are increasing kidnappings for ransom and cattle theft.
These criminal gangs are motivated by greed, but some have developed strong links with jihadist groups in the northeast.
Notably those who kidnapped 344 students from a boarding school in the town of Kankara, Katsina State, last December.
These armed groups had acted on behalf of the Boko Haram jihadist group, which had claimed responsibility for the abduction in a video, but whose stronghold is hundreds of kilometers away in northeastern Nigeria.
The kidnapping caused a global stir and rekindled memories of Boko Haram's abduction of more than 200 girls in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in 2014.
The teenagers from Kankara were released after a week of captivity following negotiations between the gangs and the governments of Katsina and Zamfara.
On February 9, the perpetrator of the abduction, an armed group leader called Awwalun Daudawa, surrendered to the authorities in exchange for an amnesty agreement.