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Two more students were killed after being kidnapped with others last week by gunmen in northwest Nigeria, local authorities said Monday, bringing the death toll from the attack to six.
The killings in Kaduna state by criminals known locally as “bandits” mark an escalation in the mass kidnappings of students that plague northwest and central Nigeria.
“Security agencies have just reported to the Kaduna State Government the recovery of two more dead bodies of Greenfield University students, killed by armed bandits,” state commissioner Samuel Aruwan said Monday.
Gunmen attacked the private Greenfield University last Tuesday in what was the fifth known attack on a school or college since December.
A member of the school staff was killed during the assault and the bodies of three students were later discovered in a nearby village.
Two university staff told AFP news agency that 20 students along with three non-academic staff had been kidnapped but state officials could not confirm those numbers, saying only that “an unspecified number” were taken.
A university spokesman did not immediately respond to calls and messages seeking comment.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killings on Saturday in a statement.
“Banditry, kidnapping and the politics of murders will be fought with all the resources available to our country,” Buhari said, describing the recurring incidents of kidnappings and killings as “barbaric terror attacks”.
Kidnappers have ramped up attacks in recent months hoping to squeeze officials for ransom payments. But local authorities have vowed not to pay them.
“We will not give them any money and they will not make any profit from Kaduna,” governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai told local media earlier this month.
Schools targeted in Nigeria are usually in remote areas where students stay in dormitories with only watchmen for security, making them easier targets.
Recent mass kidnappings have prompted six northern states to shut public schools to prevent further attacks.
Since December 2020, around 730 students have been abducted, disrupting the studies of more than five million children, UN agency UNICEF said.