Gunmen have abducted students and teachers from a primary school in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state, an official and eyewitnesses have said.
This is the first time a primary school has been raided by gangs suspected to be carrying out abductions for ransom.
Since December about 800 secondary school students have been seized.
All of them were later released, but 39 mostly female students are still in captivity following their abduction from a college in Kaduna on Thursday.
Latest African news updates from the BBC
Nigeria’s school abductions: Why children are being targeted
What global media gets ‘wrong’ in Nigeria abductions stories
In the latest attack, gunmen on motorcycles stormed the primary school in Rama village in Birnin Gwari local government area as children were arriving for classes in the morning, eyewitnesses told the BBC.
Security forces and local vigilantes are trying to pursue the gang.
Kaduna state commissioner for internal security Samuel Aruwan said they were still trying to ascertain the number of pupils and teachers abducted.
The abductions have raised concerns about the growing insecurity in northern Nigeria, and the failure to protect schools.
Students held at gunpoint
The government says it is stepping up security, with police and soldiers foiling an attempt in the early hours of Sunday to capture students from a secondary school on the outskirts of Kaduna’s Ikara town.
Officials said that 180 students and staff abducted from a college in the state on Thursday were rescued by the army, but 39 students were still missing.
Video clips emerged on Saturday on social media, showing some of the students being held at gunpoint and whipped.
The abductors put the clips on the social media accounts of some of the students.
The authorities have not yet commented on the video.
Students and teachers are usually released after negotiations with the kidnappers.
Many Nigerians believe that ransom payments are made, and this is fuelling the problem, reports the BBC’s Ishaq Khalid from the capital Abuja.
A recent report released by Kaduna state authorities said nearly 3,000 people in the state were killed or abducted by criminal gangs last year.
Last week, neighbouring Niger state announced it was shutting all secondary schools for a fortnight for “risk assessments”.
Three other northern states – Kano, Yobe and Katsina – have also shut some secondary schools.
Source: BBC News