On December 11, gunmen attacked students in a boarding school in Northern Nigeria. The students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State, woke up to gunshots on Friday night. The attackers, armed with AK-47 rifles, threatened to shoot anyone who failed to move to the school gates or obey any of their instructions, students reported.
One of the students who survived the attack, Hassan Abdul-Bashir, said the gunmen searched their lockers and carted away some of their belongings. They also shot a policeman that had been deployed to guard the students at the school. Abdul-Bashir told reporters on Saturday that the attackers went away with about 200 students.
Some members of the Nigerian police force deployed to the area also disclosed that the gunmen attacked the school on motorbikes. A policeman revealed that the attackers possibly went to the school to kidnap students for ransom. Isa Gambo, a representative of the Katsina Police Command stated that police reinforcements were able to subdue the gunmen and force them to retreat into the forest, CNN reports.
Gambo said that about 200 students were returned to the school without injuries in the early hours of Saturday. He, however, stated that it was still too early to ascertain how many students are still missing or if some of them were kidnapped by the gunmen. Lawal Badmasi, Katsina’s Commissioner for Education, said that there are pointers that some students are still with the kidnappers.
Local authorities are uncertain about the exact number of students that were in the school when the attack happened. The officials and some students from the school said some of the senior students who had finished their exams were not on the school premises when the attack happened. Officers of the Nigerian Army have begun to visit the homes of students to determine the number of students that are still missing, according to the authorities.
Badmasi stated that so far, 436 students are safe, in school or with their families. The commissioner stated that similar schools in the region are allowed a maximum population of 700 students. However, two of the students who spoke to reporters claim that the school has about 1,200 students. The students said only senior students had left the school premises since they completed their final examination a few months ago.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria denounced the school attack which actually occurred in his home state, Katsina. The president ordered the military and police to hunt down the “bandits” and ensure that the students are brought home safely. The president’s message was passed through his personal assistant, Garba Shehu. Shehu also stated that relevant law enforcement officers have been deployed to the school and the forests in search of the attackers.