By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Benjamin Isaiah, with agency report |
Security forces comprising operatives of the Army, Air Force, DSS and Police have stepped up efforts to rescue dozens of students abducted from their hostels in Kaduna State in the latest attack on schools.
Gunmen had stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Mando on the outskirts of the state capital, Kaduna, late Thursday and took 39 students hostage, while the military rescued 180 after a fierce battle.
“A combined team of police, army and other security forces are in a frantic search for the kidnapped students. We are combing the surrounding forests and bushes with a view to freeing the hostages. Very soon, it will be over for the bandits,” state police spokesman Mohammadu Jalinge told AFP yesterday.
The Kaduna college was said to have some 300 male and female students, mostly aged 17 or older, at the time of the attack.
A video emerged yesterday of the remaining abducted students pleading for their lives after the kidnappers demanded N500million ransom.
In a second video, armed men dressed in military camouflage are seen flogging the students.
State commissioner for Internal Security, Samuel Aruwan, also said the authorities were hunting the attackers.
“An operation for the students’ rescue is underway by security personnel from the army, air force, police and DSS (secret police),” Aruwan told AFP.
“The security personnel are working diligently to track the kidnapped students,” he added.
Distraught parents, relatives and sympathisers have been arriving at the school for news. Heavily-armed gangs in North West and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent years, kidnapping for ransom, raping and pillaging.
We Won’t Allow Destruction Of School System, PMB Warns Bandits
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday issued a stern warning to terrorists and bandits targeting schools, saying the country would not allow the destruction of the school system.
Buhari in a statement issued by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, commended efforts of the Kaduna State government and early response of the military which led to the rescue of 180 students including eight staff members but urged that the others declared missing be found and returned safely to their families.
The president also commended efforts and contributions of local intelligence in significantly thwarting the kidnappers, saying a country which has an efficient local intelligence network is a safer country.
“Our military may be efficient and well-armed but it needs good efforts for the nation’s defence and the local population must rise to this challenge of the moment.”
President Buhari expressed sympathy with the victims of the incident and expressed hope for an early end to the ordeal of those still held captive.