A University for girls in northwestern Nigeria was targeted Thursday in an attack that left one police officer dead, three teachers and an unknown number of students missing, police have said.
It was the third attack targeting schoolchildren or students in less than three weeks in northwestern and central Nigeria, where criminal gangs, called “bandits” by the authorities, are wreaking havoc. “Several police units are currently in pursuit of bandits who attacked the Birnin Yauri Public University in Kebbi State,” a police statement said.
In the attack, “one policeman was killed and a female student was shot and wounded,” the police said. “Three teachers and an undetermined number of female students are missing,” the police added, without indicating how many students and staff were in the school at the time of the attack.
Residents said the attackers killed five people, including four students. But this figure has not been confirmed by the authorities.
Series of kidnappings
This attack is the latest in a series of kidnappings of schoolchildren and students in recent months in central and northwestern Nigeria, where armed gangs have terrorized the population for a decade, looting villages, stealing cattle and carrying out mass kidnappings for ransom.
In early June, at least 136 children were abducted from a private Muslim school in the neighbouring central state of Niger. They have still not been released by their captors, who are demanding a ransom. Since December 2020, nearly 900 children and adolescents have been abducted in Nigeria in attacks on their schools.
In mid-June, gunmen also attacked a university in the northern state of Kaduna, killing one student and kidnapping five people, including three students. Africa’s most populous country faces other huge security challenges, including a jihadist rebellion in the northeast that has killed more than 40,000 people since 2009.