LAGOS, June 17 (Reuters) – Gunmen killed a police officer and abducted five teachers and an unknown number of students on Thursday from a school in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kebbi, police and local residents said.
The attack was the latest in a series of group kidnappings at schools in northwest Nigeria, which have been attributed by the authorities to armed bandits seeking ransom payments.
A spokesman for the police in Kebbi State, Nafiu Abubakar, said one officer had been shot dead during an exchange of fire between police and gunmen, and a student had also been shot and was receiving medical treatment.
“We are still trying to ascertain the number of students kidnapped but five teachers were kidnapped,” Abubakar said.
The attack took place at a federal government college in the remote town of Birnin Yauri. Abubakar said security forces were searching a nearby forest for the abducted students and teachers.
Atiku Aboki, a local resident who went to the school shortly after the gunfire stopped, said he saw a scene of panic and confusion as people searched for their children.
“When we got there we saw students crying, teachers crying, everyone is sympathising with people,” he said by telephone.
“Everyone was confused. Then my brother called me (to say) that his two children have not been seen and (we) don’t know if they are among the kidnapped.”
More than 800 Nigerian students have been kidnapped from their schools since December in a series of raids blamed by the authorities on ransom seekers. Some have been freed while others remain missing.
The raids have mostly taken place in the northwestern region. They are separate from Islamist insurgencies centred on the northeast, where the Boko Haram militant group made global headlines in 2014 when it abducted more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok.
Reporting by Angela Ukomadu, Writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Alison Williams