GUNMEN in Nigeria broke down doors, shattered windows and abducted 24 female students from hostels of a university in northwestern Zamfara state in the early hours, witnesses said, in the latest kidnapping to hit the state.
As they marched their victims away, the armed men also took a security guard and 10 construction workers who were sleeping in a makeshift shelter on the premises of Federal University Gusau, local officials said.
“The armed bandits arrived on motorcycles and started shooting sporadically, that’s when I woke up. They went to the girls’ hostels near the campus, breaking windows and doors and shouting for the students to come out,” said student Hussaini Abubakar, who lives in a nearby hostel.
The students were marched through bush country at the back of the university campus, which is not fenced, said Abubakar.
Armed gangs have plagued the northwest in recent years, kidnapping for ransom, looting and destroying communities and murdering civilians. Security forces’ attempts to halt their rampage have met with little success.
Zamfara is one of the hot spot states for kidnapping.
The state governor’s spokesperson said 35 people from the university were taken in the first major abduction involving students this year.
Another student, who identified himself as Sodiq Moshood, said he was woken by the sound of gunfire.
“I was very scared and the gunshots lasted several minutes. It was around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) and there was commotion outside,” Sodiq said.
The university is 20 km ( outside Zamfara state capital.
Six students had been rescued by security forces, the university spokesperson said.
President Bola Tinubu has implemented some bold economic reforms, including the removal of a costly fuel subsidy and freeing the naira currency but he is yet to spell out how he will tackle widespread insecurity across Nigeria.
A long-running Islamist insurgency festers in the northeast, kidnappings for ransom remain rampant in the northwest, gang and separatist violence in the southeast continues to claim lives and dozens have been killed during farmer and herder clashes in the central belt.