Nine more students than originally thought are missing after gunmen stormed a forestry college in northwest Nigeria earlier this week, a government official in Nigeria’s Kaduna state said.
The revision on Saturday brings the total number of missing students to 39 following Thursday’s night-time raid on the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, the fourth mass school abduction in northern Nigeria since December.
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Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state’s security commissioner, said the missing comprised of 23 females and 16 males.
“The Kaduna state government is maintaining close communication with the management of the college as efforts are sustained by security agencies towards the tracking of the missing students,” Aruwan said.
The armed gang broke into the school located on the outskirts of Kaduna city near a military academy, at about 11:30pm (22:30 GMT) on Thursday.
Aruwan said on Friday that the army rescued 180 people after a distress call in the early morning hours. An unspecified number of the students were injured and are receiving medical attention at a military facility, he added.
Distraught parents, relatives and sympathisers have been arriving at the school for news.
On Friday, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the abduction and called for “the immediate and unconditional release of those students that remain in captivity,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Guterres urged authorities to ensure that schools “remain a safe space for children to learn without fear of violence or kidnapping or any other attacks on them,” Dujarric said.
Kaduna city is the capital of Kaduna state, part of a region where attacks by gangs of armed men, referred to as bandits, have festered for years.
Military and police attempts to tackle the gangs have had little success, while many worry that state authorities are making the situation worse by letting kidnappers go unpunished, paying them off or providing incentives.