Gunmen have attacked a private university in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state, killing one staff member and kidnapping some students, police and officials said Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear how many students had been abducted from Greenfield University during the Tuesday night attack and one official said they were still conducting a headcount.
Two officials at the university told AFP at least 20 students were still missing though it was unclear how many had been taken by gunmen or may have fled the attack.
“There was an attack at about 20:15 (1915 GMT) last night. The suspected bandits infiltrated the university in large numbers,” local police spokesman Mohammed Jalige told AFP.
“Some students are said to have been abducted but we are yet to ascertain how many,” he added. “We have deployed our men to find the perpetrators and rescue the victims.”
Since December, criminal gangs known locally as bandits have increasingly targeted schools and colleges for kidnapping attacks, hoping to squeeze ransom payments out of the authorities.
The Greenfield University attack was the fifth kidnapping assault on a Nigerian school or college since December.
A university staff member was killed in the Tuesday evening attack, Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for internal security and home affairs in the state, said in a statement.
“After search-and-rescue operations, a staff member of the university was confirmed to have been killed by the armed bandits, while a number of students were kidnapped,” said Aruwan.
An official of the university, who declined to give his name or say how many students are enrolled, said a headcount was underway.
Schools targeted in northern Nigeria are usually in remote areas where students stay in dormitories with only watchmen for security, making them easier targets.
Recent mass kidnappings have prompted six northern states to shut public schools to prevent further attacks.
Gunmen last month seized 39 students from a college in Afaka in Kaduna state, after a gunfight with soldiers. Some of those students have been freed, others are still being held captive.
Since December 2020, some 730 students have been abducted, disrupting the studies of more than five million children, UN agency UNICEF said.