Aleast 73 students of a secondary day school have been kidnapped by bandits in Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria.
The students and school’s vice principal, Zayyanu Tsabu were abducted at Kaya Government Day Secondary School in Maradun on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the school authorities, more than 300 students were on the premises at the time of the attack.
Some of them were able to escape into nearby farmlands.
The incident arose exactly a week after another group of abducted students and staff from the College of Agriculture and Animal Science in Zamfara were freed.
Zamfara governor Bello Matawalle has announced the closure of all schools and imposed a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am in 13 local government areas and 8 pm to 6 am in Gusau, the state capital.
State Police Commissioner Ayuba Elkana said officers have been deployed to work with the military to locate and rescue the victims.
The rise in attacks from the military has made the bandits more desperate.
More than 1,870 students have been abducted by bandits in the northwest, north-central and northeast states this year, besides the menace of terrorist elements such as Boko Haram in the northeast.
According to UNICEF, more than 1,000 children have been abducted by Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria since 2013.
This includes 276 girls taken from their secondary school in the town of Chibok in 2014.
“Parents are grieving their children’s ‘disappearance’; siblings are missing their brothers and sisters – these children must be immediately and unconditionally released and safely reunited with their families,” UNICEF said.
“It is horrifying that schools and schoolchildren continue to be targets of attack. We can only begin to imagine how frightened they are, and the impact this will have on their mental health and well-being.”
UNICEF stressed that attacks on students and schools are not only disgraceful but a gross violation of the right to education.
By Hall Morara