Shooters in Nigeria abducted more than 80 Islamic schoolchildren in the northwestern state of Katsina on Saturday night, but students were quickly rescued by security forces after a fierce gun battle, police said on Sunday.
The foiled abduction comes less than two days after the release of 344 schoolboys who were abducted in the same area on December 11. The incidents have highlighted the uncertainty in northern Nigeria.
Saturday night’s kidnapping attempt took place in Dandume, about 64 kilometers from Kankara, the city where the previous kidnapping of schoolboys took place.
The bandits had already abducted four people and stolen a dozen cows when they encountered school children who were on their way home from a party, Katsina’s state police spokesman, Gambo Isa, said early Sunday morning. Police and a local self-defense group rescued the children from the bandits after a fight, he said.
“The law succeeded in freeing the bandits and rescuing all 84 kidnapped victims and recovering all 12 rusty cows.” said Isa in a statement. “Search parties are still combing the area with a view to apprehending the injured bandits and / or restoring their dead bodies.”
Dandume, an area bordering the northern part of the state of Kaduna, is, according to residents, one of the region’s hotspots for banditry and kidnapping.
“Dandume is an access for many of us because of the high level of crime and insecurity perpetrated by armed bandits,” Saidu Lawal, an official from a local Katsina civic group, told the Associated Press.
“Despite the government’s efforts to open up the area by building roads leading from the metropolitan areas to the Dandume hinterland … the bandit still remains,” Lawal said. “On many occasions, bandits are blocking the Dandume-Sabuwa motorways to attack travelers. It was based on that reason that many people have abandoned the new route. ”