It has happened again in Nigeria. Nearly 40 students are missing after gunmen attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Kaduna on Thursday – making this the fourth school abduction in Nigeria since December.
“The number of missing students is now confirmed to be 39, comprising 23 females and 16 males,” Samuel Aruwan, Commissioner for Kaduna State Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, said in a statement.
Aruwan added that several school staff were also kidnapped.
The assailants, who were described as a large group of “armed bandits,” were met with opposition by military personnel. During the encounter, 180 students and some staff members were safely rescued.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the kidnapping and demanded “the immediate and unconditional release of those students that remain in captivity,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Reuters reports that video of the students who were taken was shared on social media Saturday. Their captors were allegedly beating them with sticks while they begged for help in English and Hausa.
In the video, one student reportedly says that the kidnappers want a $500 million naira ($1.31 million) ransom.
“If anybody comes to rescue them without the money they are going to kill us,” a male student says while a man with a gun stands near him.
Aruwan noted that 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.”
Authorities say these “bandits” were also responsible for the kidnapping of 300 schoolgirls last month from the Government Secondary Jangebe School in Zamfara.
State Governor Bello Matawalle announced that 279 girls were freed by their captors earlier this month. President Muhammadu Buhari expressed “overwhelming joy” over the release of the girls.
Other organized armed groups, locally called bandits, often abduct students for money. The government says large groups of armed men in Zamfara state are known to kidnap for money and to press for the release of their members held in jail.
Experts say if these kidnappings persist without punishment, they will only continue.
Please continue to pray for the missing students and their families during this traumatic time.