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Gunmen kidnap 140 school students in northwest Nigeria

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NEW DELHI: Gunmen kidnapped 140 students from a boarding school in northwestern Nigeria on Monday, a school official said. This is the latest in a wave of mass abductions targetting schoolchildren and students.

According to reports, the attackers opened fire and overpowered security guards after storming the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state in the early hours of Monday, abducting most of the 165 pupils boarding there overnight.

“The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 students escaped. We still have no idea where the students were taken,” Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the school told AFP.

Kaduna state police spokesman Muhammed Jalige confirmed the early Monday morning attack, but could not give details on the number of pupils taken.

“Tactical police teams went after the kidnappers,” he said. “We are still on the rescue mission.”

Police said they had safely rescued 26 people, including a female teacher.

Around 1,000 students and pupils have been abducted in Nigeria since December. Most have been released after negotiations with local officials, although some are still being held.

Heavily-armed criminal gangs often attack villages to loot, steal cattle and abduct for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria, but since the start of the year they have increasingly targeted schools and colleges.

Often, gangs target rural schools and colleges where students stay in dormitories and security is light, allowing them to easily transport large numbers of victims to forest hideouts to negotiate ransoms.

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