Nigeria gunmen kidnapped 136 from Islamic school
Before transporting their victims into neighboring woodlands to negotiate ransoms, criminal gangs have targeted schools in isolated places where students reside in dorms with no security protection.
On Sunday, gunmen assaulted Tegina town in Niger state, arriving on motorcycles and shooting indiscriminately, according to police.
The perpetrators killed one person and injured another before taking an unknown number of students from the Salihu Tanko Islamic school, according to Niger state police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun.
Niger state reported the abduction of 136 students late on Wednesday.
"A total of 136 students were abducted," deputy governor Alh Ahmed Mohammed Ketso said, in a video posted on Twitter.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security and intelligence services to increase their efforts to save the youngsters.
According to a statement from Buhari's spokeswoman, Garba Shehu, the kidnapping of children is "unfortunate," and he has asked all those participating in the rescue operation to do all possible to ensure their immediate release.
Security agencies are "trying their best but don't have enough logistics," according to Kesto, who added that additional assistance is required to enable them to tackle the crooks.
According to police, 11 of the students were released because they were "too tiny and couldn't walk" too far.
The government of Niger does not pay ransoms, according to the deputy governor, who also stated that security forces are "being cautious in their pursuit of bandits to avoid collateral harm."
"We are trying to negotiate to see how we can bring them back safely", Ketso said.
Relatives of the kidnapped students pleaded with the government to assist them in their release.
"My appeal to the government is that they should try to protect our people first and our children first," Sa'idu Umar, whose child was among those abducted, told AFP.
"We are hoping that they are going to try harder to bring back our children successfully."
Outside the school on Tuesday, mothers and other relatives knelt, weeping and waiting for the missing youngsters.
Residents in the northwest and central Nigeria are being terrorized by armed gangs that are robbing villages, stealing cattle, and kidnapping people.
Since December, more than 700 children and students have been kidnapped for ransom by gunmen.
Mass kidnappings in the northwest and central Nigeria are adding to the issues facing Buhari's security forces, who are also fighting a jihadist insurgency in the country's northeast for more than a decade.