Anxiety grows among the parents of hundreds of students who are still missing three days after gunmen attacked their school in northern Nigeria’s Katsina state.
More than 300 students are missing after the attack on the Government Science High School, a school for boys in Kankara, on Friday night, said Katsina Governor Aminu Masari.
Nigerian police, air force and military launched a joint rescue operation on Saturday, according to the government. The army was on fire with the bandits after locating their hideout in the Zango / Paula forest on Saturday, according to a statement from President Muhammadu Buhari.
When the school was attacked, the police became involved in a shootout with the gunmen, allowing many students to climb the school fence and run for safety, according to Katsina State Police spokesman Gambo Isah. The school has more than 600 students.
Salish Masi said that two of his sons are among those who are still missing.
“I am concerned that after three days I will not hear from my children,” he told The Associated Press on Monday. “I’ve been waiting for the authorities to tell me what happened, but so far they haven’t said anything.”
Another father, Mustapha Gargaba, said that he is very anxious because he does not know what happened to his son.
No group or individuals have claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the students, the Katsina state governor said after meeting with security officials.
Several armed groups operate in northwestern Nigeria, where Katsina State is located.
More than 1,100 people have been killed by bandits in escalating attacks in the first half of the year, according to Amnesty International, which said the government was not bringing the attackers to justice.
While several bandit groups are active there, the groups known to kidnap for ransom have ties to the jihadist group Boko Haram and its breakaway faction, the Islamic State’s West African province, known as ISWAP.
Both Boko Haram and ISWAP have carried out mass kidnappings of students in the past. The most serious school attack took place in April 2014, when more than 270 schoolchildren were abducted from their dormitory at the government secondary school in Chibok, in the northeastern state of Borno. About 100 of the girls are still missing.
The recent incident at the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara is the worst attack on a children’s school since February 2014, when 59 children were killed during a Boko Haram attack on the Buni Yadi Federal Government College in the state of Yobe.
– Reported with Associated Press