The Niger State government says 11 of the kidnapped students of Salihu Tanko Islamic School have been released by their abductors.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Mary Noel-Berje, the bandits released the 11 children because they were too young and could not walk.
“Meanwhile, 11 children who were too small and couldn’t walk, among the kidnapped Islamiyya Students, were released by the gunmen,” she said in a statement.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how armed bandits on Sunday abducted many pupils of the Islamic school in Tegina, a densely populated town in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
The bandits reportedly seized the police station in the town and went round the town shooting sporadically into the air to scare residents before breaking into a private school where they abducted children attending Islamic lectures.
The school, which consists of nursery and primary schools, also hosts Islamiyya students in the evening and at weekends.
The school’s proprietor, Yakubu Idris, told PREMIUM TIMES that the gunmen went away with many students, including his younger sister.
Governor Sani Bello expressed shock and sadness over recent reports of abduction of innocent people by armed bandits in several communities across three local government areas of Rafi, Wushishi and Bida, in the state.
“It is reported that armed bandits invaded Tegina community in Rafi Local Government Area, shot one person dead and left one seriously injured as well as kidnapped an unconfirmed number of Islamiyya students and teachers from Salihu Tanko Islamic School alongside some passengers of a Sharon Bus travelling to Minna.”
Mr Bello also expressed outrage at the escalating banditry in the state while reiterating his emergency call on the federal government for prompt intervention.
“The situation has reached crisis level, in fact, it’s a war situation that we have to confront without further delay,” the governor was quoted to have said by Mrs Noel-Berje.
“Reports also said the gunmen, on about 70 motorcycles, attacked 17 communities in Wushishi Local Government Area where they shot several people while some women and children drowned as they tried to escape across River Kaduna.
“More than 10 people were reported to be receiving treatment at the Wushishi General Hospital even as a search was still ongoing for many missing persons from Babako, Tashan Girgi, Kwakwagi, Fakara, Ndiga, Buzu, Akare, Kala Kala, Agwa, Anguwan Gizo, Tsamiya and other neighbouring villages attacked by the bandits.
“The governor described as unfortunate and unbecoming of the serial attacks and assured that the Joint Military Task Force has been mobilised and are already tracing the tracks of the criminals for possible isolation and ambush.
“He further appealed for calm and restated the strong resolve of the state government to continue to protect the lives and property of the citizens as a matter of utmost importance and priority.”
The mass abduction of the Islamic school students was the second to be perpetrated in Rafi local government area in six months.
Recall that dozens of students were kidnapped at Government Science College (GSC) Kagara but were later released after negotiation with the state government.
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