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How gunmen invaded Kaduna school, abducted 39 students

By AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna

  • Soldiers foil mass abduction, rescue 180

  • Anguished parents plead for safe rescue of children

  • Troops foil kidnap attempt at Turkish school, Kaduna

Gunmen, who have been terrorising Kaduna and neighboring states,  on Friday launched their most daring raid yet when they attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Igabi Local Government Area, located opposite the permanent site of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).

They were almost making away with 219 victims students and staff of the college when soldiers from the NDA stormed the scene, engaged the bandits in a gun duel and thwarted the raid.

One hundred and eighty of the abductees were rescued.

The Kaduna State Government said last night that 39 others were still missing.

A similar attempt by gunmen also on Friday to kidnap students of Turkish International Secondary School, Rigachikun, Kaduna State, was foiled by soldiers.

But it was not immediately known whether the two raids were carried out by the same group.

Sources said the gunmen cleverly avoided entering the College of Forestry Mechanization from the main gate in order not to attract the attention of soldiers from the nearby NDA.

Instead, they opted for the back of the school compound where they knocked some bricks off the school’s perimeter fence to create a huge opening through which they gained entry.

They first went to the male students’ hostel which was close to the breached fence and later the female hostel.

That was when they started shooting. Mrs Angelina Babale, mother of one of the missing girls, said she was praying when she heard gunshots from the direction of the school at about 11.30pm.

She said: “I live close to the college. I was praying at night and at about 11: 30 I heard sporadic gunshots and I thought it was within our area.

“I ran to the village head’s house. There I met a large crowd of people.

“The village head said the gunshots were from the Forestry College, but we could not go there. I started calling my daughter, Blessing Babale, who is a student in the school, but her line was not going.

“So, this morning we came to the school and we were told that some of the students were at Ribadu Cantonment. We sent one of my husband’s brothers to go and find out if she was there only to discover that she was not there.

“The stories of students’ abduction that we hear from far away have come near us.

“It is so bad that at home we are not safe, in schools our children are equally not safe.

“The government has to do something to stop all these abductions. I am worried and my prayer is for her and others to be released safely.”

Another parent, Mr Sunday Hai, said his daughter, Sarah Sunday, returned to the school hours before the raid.

He said: “My daughter is schooling here. I came to confirm whether she is around or not. I am just confused. I called her line this morning but later it was switched off.

“She came home on Wednesday to collect money for some things she needed ahead of her exams next week.

“I just gave her the money yesterday and she returned immediately. If I knew something like this was going to happen, I would not have allowed her to return yesterday.

“I don’t know whether we have security in this country, because if actually we have security, see NDA here very close to the school, then how is it possible that they will come into the school and start abducting students? I am just confused.

“I was told they (bandits) broke in through the back and started the abduction. Then the security operatives came in through the gate.”

Bitrus Shekari who has two of his children in the school said one was taken away by the bandits while the other is safe.

Markus Mathew, an off-campus student, said though he was not in the school premises when the gunmen carried out the attack, his classmates called him during the operation.

He said: “The school was to close on Monday because of what happened at the airport last week, but the security people told them (school’s authorities) not to worry; that they were on top of the situation.

“I stay off campus. I learnt of the attack yesterday night around 11:30 PM.

“I was even planning to move to the school hostel in preparation for our exam which is billed to start next Thursday. The school is close to military institutions and we felt we were safe.

“We have NDA, an army division not far from here. So, I never expected this to happen.

“I am in shock. I have lost interest in schooling. I think we are in trouble in this country.

“From my checks now, five female and eight male students from my department are missing.”

The Kaduna State Government said yesterday that about 39 students, most of them females, were abducted, while 180 were rescued at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Igabi LGA of Kaduna State.

Internal Security Commissioner Samuel Aruwan said soldiers from One Division of the Nigerian Army prevented the bandits from taking away all the students they had abducted.

He however said 39 students could not be immediately accounted for.

Security agents, according to him, were working hard to rescue them.

He said: “The armed bandits in large numbers had attacked the institution at around 11:30pm on Thursday and kidnapped several students and staff.

“The armed bandits broke into the institution by breaching a perimeter fence. They then encroached about 600 metres to attack the first facility.

“The Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs on receiving a distress call alerted the One Division Nigerian Army and the Air Training Command of the Nigerian Air Force.

“Troops of the Nigerian Army immediately moved to the school and engaged the armed bandits accordingly.

“The troops successfully rescued 180 citizens; 42 female students, eight staff and 130 male students. However, about 30 students, a mix of males and females, are yet to be accounted for.

“Some of the rescued students were injured and currently receiving medical attention at a military facility.”

He said Governor Nasir El-Rufai, on receiving the report, thanked the troops for their swift response and the rescue of the 180 citizens and wished the injured students a speedy recovery.

The commissioner, in an update last night, said 39 students were still missing.

He said: “Further checks in the wake of the attack by armed bandits on the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Igabi LGA indicate that 39 students are currently unaccounted for.

“The number of missing students is now confirmed to be 39, comprising 23 females and 16 males.

“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.”

The school was desolate in the aftermath of the raid.

Belongings of the students littered the hostels.

Troops foil kidnap attempt at Turkish school

A similar raid by gunmen on Turkish International Secondary School located in Rigachikun, Kaduna State was also foiled yesterday by troops of Quick Response Force of One Division.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, said in a statement that the troops quickly mobilised to protect the school from the bandits following a tip off.

He said a combined team of Army, Air Force, Police and DSS “are currently combing the forest in pursuit of the bandits.”

The two attacks are the latest by gunmen in the Northwest where they abducted over 300 students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26.

The girls were released four days later.

On February 17, gunmen also raided Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State and abducted 27students and staff,

They were released 10 days later.

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