Gunmen kidnap children from Islamic school in central Nigeria

Gunmen on Sunday kidnapped a large number of children from an Islamic seminary in central Nigeria’s Niger state, police and residents said.

Some 200 children were at the school at the time of the attack, the Niger state government said on Twitter, adding that “an unconfirmed number” were abducted.

The kidnapping came a day after 14 students from a university in northwestern Nigeria were freed after being detained for 40 days.

Niger state police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said the attackers arrived on motorbikes in Tegina town and started shooting indiscriminately, killing one resident and wounding another, before abudcting the children from the Salihu Tanko Islamic school.

One of the school’s officials, who asked for anonymity, said the attackers initially took more than 100 children “but later sent back those they considered too small for them, those between four and 12 years old”.

The state government, in a series of tweets, said the attackers had released 11 of the pupils who were “too small and couldn’t walk” very far.

Armed gangs are terrorising inhabitants in northwest and central Nigeria by looting villages, stealing cattle, and taking people hostage.

Such seizures have become a frequent way for criminals to collect ransoms.