By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Gunmen kidnapped more than 80 students and killed a policeman in a raid on a school in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kebbi, residents said.
Friday’s attack rocked the federal government college in the remote town of Birnin Yauri, officials confirmed.
The abductions come amid mounting concerns about kidnappings of children and others, including many Christians, by Islamic militants and bandits.
Witnesses said the attackers broke through the gate and went straight into the school classes.
Usman Aliyu, a teacher at the school, reportedly said the gunmen took more than 80 students, most of them girls, and that one police officer was killed.
Kebbi State police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar told reporters the gunmen killed one officer during an exchange and shot a student receiving medical treatment.
It was the third mass kidnapping in three weeks in northwest Nigeria, which authorities attributed to armed bandits seeking ransom payments.
Heavily armed criminal gangs have long targeted central and northwestern states, raiding villages, stealing cattle, and kidnapping for ransom.
But they have increasingly targeted schools, snatching students or schoolchildren and hiding them in their forest hideouts to negotiate payment.
At the end of May, gunmen kidnapped 136 children from an Islamic seminary in central Nigeria's Niger state.
More than 700 children and students have already been kidnapped by gunmen for ransom since December, according to estimates.
Some have been freed, while others remain missing.
Mass kidnappings are just one challenge for President Muhammadu Buhari's security forces. They are also fighting a jihadist conflict in the northeast and rising tensions in the country's southeast.
The Boko Haram militant group made global headlines in 2014 when it abducted more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, most of them Christians.