Nigeria gunmen kidnap 73 students from high school in northwest
Nigerian gunmen on Wednesday kidnapped 73 students after storming a high school in the northwest of the country, police said, in the latest in a series of mass abductions targeting pupils.
Kidnappings for ransom by heavily armed gangs known locally as bandits have become a grim trend in northwest and central Nigeria with around 1,000 students snatched this year, though most have been released after negotiations.
A large group of gunmen invaded the secondary school in Kaya in the Maradun region of Zamfara State late Wednesday morning, snatching 73 students, the state police said in a statement.
"The abduction followed the invasion of the school by large numbers of armed bandits," spokesman Mohammed Shehu said.
He said police rescue teams were working with the military to try to release the students.
Northwest and central states have long been troubled by tit-for-tit attacks and community raids between nomadic herders and local farmers who clash over water and land.
But violence has escalated sharply with the emergence of large criminal gangs who steal cattle, raid and loot villages and kidnap for ransom.
This year they have raided schools, seminaries and colleges across the region, herding children and students deep into forest hideouts while they negotiate ransom payments.
Many students have been released only after spending weeks or months in captivity. Dozens are still being held.
Zamfara saw 18 students freed last week after they were kidnapped earlier in August from an agricultural college.
Gunmen last week also freed nearly 100 children taken from an Islamic seminary in May in northwest Niger State and 32 students taken from a Baptist school in Kaduna State in July.
President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure over insecurity and the armed forces have launched military raids and air strikes on bandit camps, but gunmen have kept up attacks.