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Parents fear kidnapped children, some up to 4 years old, after the latest school raids in Nigeria




Murtala Muhammadu, 48, a local businessman from Tegina, a remote town in the Rafi district of Niger, told CNN on Tuesday that his 5-year-old son and three 6- and 7-year-old daughters were part of the more than 150 schoolchildren kidnapped from an Islamic. night school of armed assailants in the state of Niger.

“Four of my children (three girls and a boy) are now in captivity,” Muhammadu said.

According to state police officials, at least one person died during the raid, the latest in a series of school kidnappings in the country this year.

Rescue kidnapping remains a major security challenge in Nigeria. Since December, hundreds of students have been abducted in various incidents in the northern part of the country.

Chaos scenes

Abubakar Alhassan, the school’s principal, described the scenes of the chaos as the assailants burst into the school grounds, which houses a nursery, primary and secondary school.

“It was before the day started and the doors were locked, so they went in through the school window.”

They later broke down the door and stormed the school causing panic as the terrified children locked themselves in the rooms while others fled, Alhassan said.

“Some children ran and locked themselves inside some offices, but the bandits took away more than 150 of 303 students,” he added.

Alhassan’s two children, ages 6 and 10, were also prisoners, as well as a male teacher and two women, he said.

He added that more than 100 of his students in captivity are between 4 and 5 years old. The institution is an Islamic school called Islamiyya, for schooling boys and girls in the evening and learning basic religious teachings.

The school where the children were abducted on Sunday.

A warning of the attack

Muhammadu told CNN that before the raid news was circulating about an imminent attack on Tegina by gunmen.

“I was standing in front of the house when someone told me there was a rumor around that the bandits … they would probably be planning to attack our community. We were advised to properly monitor our respective families,” he said. Muhammad.

Muhammadu described the time the attackers stormed Tegina on Sunday afternoon and opened fire at random.

“Suddenly, we saw them enter our community. They passed my house around three-thirty at night without saying a word to anyone … and they went to a gas station. Then they started. to shoot, “he added.

The father’s worst fears were confirmed when he received a call informing him that only four of his eight children had returned home from school.

Nigerian state government spokeswoman Mary Noel-Berje told CNN on Monday that at least 11 of the children abducted during the raid were later released because of their age.

“Eleven children were released because of their tenderness … the youngest who could not pass through the bush path, the escape route of the kidnappers, were released,” Noel-Berje said.

Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, deputy governor of the state of Niger, told a news conference on Monday that the government had established contacts with some parents of the abducted children identified to ensure their safe return.

“We are not paying ransom to the kidnappers. We are trying to negotiate to see how we can recover them safely,” Ketso added.