More than 280 children abducted in area of Nigeria controlled by Boko Haram breakaway group

At least one pupil was shot and is receiving medical attention

Namita Singh
Friday 08 March 2024 05:44 GMT
People gather around an area were gunmen kidnapped school children in Chikun, Nigeria, Thursday, 7 March 2024
People gather around an area were gunmen kidnapped school children in Chikun, Nigeria, Thursday, 7 March 2024 (AP)

Suspected Islamist extremists have abducted more than 280 children in the north-western town of Kuriga in Nigeria.

While authorities initially said more than 100 students were taken hostage, the school headteacher told Kaduna governor Uba Sani that the headcount of those missing has reached 287.

This is the second mass abduction in the West African nation in less than a week. “We will ensure that every child will come back. We are working with the security agencies,” the governor was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Gunmen attacked the school when the pupils were in the assembly ground for morning prayers at around 8.30am local time. According to eyewitness, one of the students was shot by the gunmen and is receiving treatment in Birnin Gwari hospital.

“The government is trying everything possible with the security agencies to see how we can rescue them,” said Musa, chairman of the local council.

The incident comes days after Islamist extremists abducted at least 200 people who were out searching for firewood, mostly women and children displaced by violence in northeastern Nigeria.

Officials do not believe the two cases are not related. Locals blamed the earlier incident on extremist rebels from Boko Haram, who launched an insurgency in Borno in 2009 seeking to establish their radical interpretation of Islamic law in the region.

Thursday’s attack, meanwhile, occurred in an area controlled by a breakaway faction of Boko Haram.

A woman cries as she calls upon the government to help and rescue school children that were kidnapped by gunmen in Chikun, Nigeria, Thursday, 7 March 2024 (AP)

Many of those fleeing Boko Haram’s deadly violence are in displacement camps with limited aid, often risking their lives to go to areas with inadequate security presence in search of food and firewood.

The victims of the latest attack had left several displacement camps in Borno state’s Gamboru Ngala council area when they were ambushed near the border with Chad and taken hostage, the UN said late on Wednesday. The incident occurred several days ago but details are only emerging now because of limited access to information in the area.

Nigeria army trucks are park in an area were gunmen kidnapped school children in Chikun, Nigeria, Thursday, 7 March, 2024 (AP)

"The exact number of people abducted remains unknown but is estimated at over 200 people," the UN humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria Mohamed Fall said in a statement, adding that some of the victims were later released.

The attack is a "stark reminder" that women and girls are worst hit by the conflict, Fall said as he called for the immediate release of the victims. "This act of violence against already traumatised citizens offends our common humanity," he said.


At least 35,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced due to violence by Boko Haram group and a breakaway faction backed by the Islamic State group.

Nigerian security forces fighting the insurgents are overstretched as they also battle dozens of armed groups attacking remote communities in other parts of the northern region. The crises have added to pressures on Nigeria’s president Bola Tinubu, who was elected last year after promising to end the violence.

Additional reporting by agencies

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