Gunmen have abducted students and teachers from a primary school in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state, an official and eyewitnesses have said.
This is the first time a primary school has been raided by gangs suspected to be carrying out abductions for ransom.
Since December about 800 secondary school students have been seized.
All of them were later released, but 39 mostly female students are still in captivity following their abduction from a college in Kaduna on Thursday.
In the latest attack, gunmen on motorcycles stormed the primary school in Rama village in Birnin Gwari local government area as children were arriving for classes in the morning, eyewitnesses told the BBC.
Security forces and local vigilantes are trying to pursue the gang.
Kaduna state commissioner for internal security Samuel Aruwan said they were still trying to ascertain the number of pupils and teachers abducted.
The abductions have raised concerns about the growing insecurity in northern Nigeria, and the failure to protect schools.
Last week’s abduction took place from a college, which is located near a military training academy.
State authorities say that 180 students and staff were rescued by the army, but 39 students were still missing.
Students and teachers are usually released after negotiations with the kidnappers.
Many Nigerians believe that ransom payments are made, and this is fuelling the problem, reports the BBC’s Ishaq Khalid from the capital Abuja.
A recent report released by Kaduna state authorities said nearly 3,000 people in the state were killed or abducted by criminal gangs last year.
Last week, neighbouring Niger state announced it was shutting all secondary schools for a fortnight for “risk assessments”.
Three other northern states – Kano, Yobe and Katsina – have also shut some secondary schools.
Recent school kidnappings in Nigeria:
- 11 March – 39 students seized from college in Kaduna state
- 26 February – 279 schoolgirls seized in Jangebe, Zamfara state
- 17 February – One pupil killed; 42 staff, students and family members taken from Kagara, Niger state
- 25 January – Gunmen kidnap seven children from an orphanage in the capital, Abuja
- 19 December – More than 80 schoolchildren kidnapped from Mahuta village, Katsina state
- 11 December – More than 300 boys abducted from a school in Kankara, Katsina state
All have since been freed, except those seized on 11 March.