136 children as young as five kidnapped by gunmen from Nigerian school

3 June 2021, 15:44

Parents wait for news at Salihu Tanko Islamic School
Parents wait for news at Salihu Tanko Islamic School. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Officials say 136 students were kidnapped by gunmen in northern Nigeria earlier this week, with the school’s owner confirming some were as young as five years old.

Gunmen on motorcycles targeted Salihu Tanko Islamic School on Sunday, killing one person and abducting three teachers as well, owner Umar Idris said.

Mr Idris added the number could be higher because school officials have not yet reached all the parents to confirm whether their children are back home.

READ MORE: Gunmen kidnap 317 young girls from boarding school in Nigeria

"We have sent out a message asking parents who have not yet reported to the school to do so," he said.

Some pre-schoolers were left behind because they could not keep pace when the gunmen hurriedly moved those abducted into the forest.

"The 11 children were mainly aged between three and four and they lacked the stamina to keep pace with the gunmen, so they were abandoned on the way," Mr Idris said, adding that the pre-schoolers were found hours after the attack.

Pupils at the school range in age from three to 14, and parents are concerned that some of the youngest victims may not be able to survive in the forest.

Gunmen have kidnapped hundreds of students in northern Nigeria this year, and the government has been unable to halt the spate of abductions for ransom.

As a result, many schools have been forced to close due to the concerns about the risk.

Earlier this week, 14 students and staff from Greenfield University in Kaduna state were released after spending more than a month in captivity.

The gunmen, who demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom, had earlier killed five other students in an effort to force the students' parents to raise the money.