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Distressed parents await news of abducted students in Nigeria's northwest

Parents of abducted students await news of their wards in Kaduna, northwestern Nigeria, on July 5, 2021.   -  
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Distressed parents wait for news of their children at a Nigerian school on Monday. Several of them gathered infront of the Bethel Baptist High School premises as news of the kidnapping broke Monday afternoon.

Gunmen stormed the Bethel Baptist High School in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna state in Nigeria’s northwest.

The attackers opened fire and overpowered security guards after storming the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state in the early hours of Monday, abducting most of the 165 pupils boarding there overnight.

They kidnapped 140 students in the early hours, 24 students escaped and police confirmed rescuing 26 students to safety, including a teacher.

A school official said this the latest in a wave of mass abductions targeting schoolchildren and students in Africa’s most populous nation.

Kaduna state police spokesman Muhammed Jalige confirmed the attack to AFP, but could not give details on the number of pupils taken. "Tactical police teams went after the kidnappers. We are still on the rescue mission", he said.

Heavily-armed criminal gangs in northwest and central Nigeria often attack villages to loot, steal cattle and abduct for ransom. However, since the beginning of the year they have increasingly targeted schools and colleges.

About 1,000 students and pupils have been abducted in Nigeria since December. Most of them have been released after negotiations with local officials, although some are still being held.

Often, gangs target rural schools and colleges where students stay in dormitories and security is light, allowing them to easily transport large numbers of victims to forest hideouts to negotiate ransoms.

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