Nigerian school raided, more than 300 students missing

'They split us into groups and led us into different directions in the forest.'

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More than 300 students are missing after gunmen attacked a school in northern Nigeria over the weekend.

The attack on the all-boys school in Katsina resulted in the disappearance of 337 students, government officials confirmed.

Security forces have been searching for the lost boys, as worried parents continue to protest over the mass kidnapping and the government’s response to the crime, The Washington Post reported.

“So far we are yet to account for 333 pupils,” Katsina Governor Aminu Masari said. The Science School, which holds 839 students, is reportedly missing about 40% of its students.

Read More: Nigerian Military exchanges gunfire with bandits that kidnapped students

“The abductors of the Kankara students have contacted a teacher and asked him to tell the government to stop the helicopter surveillance. They have not asked for ransom,” said Abdu Labaran, director general of media for the governor of Katsina. The military has been deployed to search for the boys.

According to Aljazeera, following the raid, every school in Katsina was ordered to be shutdown. It is not certain who or what orchestrated the attack, but WaPo noted that the incident was reminiscent of Boko Haram, the Islamic State in West Africa which gained notoriety by kidnapping schoolchildren, specifically girls. However, no terror organization has claimed the Katsina incident. The area of Kankara is known for bandits and gang activity.

“I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits’ attack on innocent children,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement Saturday. The government has not officially reported any casualites as a result of the attack.

One teenage victim who escaped the kidnappers spoke out in anonymity, recalling how he and dozens of boys were captured and led into the forest after dark.

“They split us into groups and led us into different directions in the forest,” he said, noting that the kidnappers seemed to be taking orders from someone on a phone, according to the report. The teen said he overheard: “No student should be shot or killed.”

READ MORE: Boko Haram is deadlier than ISIS, but nobody cares because they kill Africans

Dozens of students were kidnapped – far too many for the capturers to manage – so the teen and other children waited for the right opportunity to escape once the gunmen were distracted. A Good Samaritan drove the boy and few other escapees back to Kankara in Katsina State.

“I still can’t sleep,” the teenager said, “because when I try to close my eyes, it feels like the bandits are coming back to pick me up.”

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