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Parents appeal to Nigeria gov’t to rescue kidnapped students

Parents and family members have gathered on a secondary boarding school in Kankara, in Nigeria’s northwestern Katsina state, issuing a plea to authorities to bring to safety hundreds of students believed to have been seized by gunmen.
Security forces had exchanged fire with a gang that took the students from the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, a spokesman for the president said on Saturday night, but parents on Sunday said they had heard little more on the fate of their children.
Murja Mohammed, whose son was taken, begged authorities for help.
“If it’s not government that will help us, we have no power to rescue our children,” she told Reuters news agency.
Abubakar Lawal came from Zaria, a city 120km (75 miles) south of Kankara, after learning that two of his three sons at the school were among the missing.
“From yesterday I was here, praying that the almighty Allah should rescue our people,” he said on Sunday, outside the dusty school grounds.
One of his missing sons, 17-year-old Buhari, was named after President Muhammadu Buhari, a native of Katsina state.
Anas, 16, was also missing. Lawal said the school principal addressed parents, telling them to pray.
Bint’a Ismail, mother of an abducted child, said residents of Katsina “are in a terrifying condition”.
“We don’t see the value of the government. I have a younger brother and a child taken by the kidnappers. I’m from Danja, Katsina state and I’ve been here in the school since dawn and yet there’s no update,” Ismail said.
Some boys seen in the area reportedly said they had escaped from the forest where the gunmen took them, but it was not immediately clear how many remained in captivity or what the group wanted. The Associated Press news agency quoted Katsina state police spokesman Gambo Isah as saying in a statement that about 400 students were missing, while 200 were accounted for.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the area is far from the usual area of operation of the Boko Haram armed group which began its violent campaign in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 with the goal of imposing its version of strict Islamic law.
In 2018, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 100 girls in the northeastern Nigerian town of Dapchi. And six years ago, in 2014, the same group abducted more than 270 girls in the town of Chibok.
Ovigwe Eguegu, geopolitical and security analyst at Afripolitika, told Al Jazeera, it is very likely that the perpetrators of the Kankara attack are bandits and not members of Boko Haram.
“These states [such as Katsina] in northwestern Nigeria are known to have serious attacks by bandits, uncoordinated groups that don’t really have any malign intention against the state, or are trying to impose any policy on … the state like we have with Boko Haram,” Eguegu said.
“These are just criminal elements operating freely in northwestern Nigeria.”
There is growing anger with the precarious security situation in Nigeria. Late last month, armed fighters killed many farmers in northeastern Borno state, beheading some of them.
Oby Ezekwesili, a former Nigerian education minister, told Al Jazeera the latest abduction of schoolchildren was a “major tragedy” and “an indication that we learned no lessons from previous tragedies”.