42 taken in new kidnap tally: Nigerian official

KANO, NIGERIA (AFP) – Gunmen abducted 42 people, including 27 students, from a school in central Nigeria, a local government official said yesterday, downplaying initial reports that hundreds had been taken.

“They kidnapped 42 people from the school. They took away 27 students, along with three teachers. They also kidnapped 12 family members of the teachers,” Niger state’s government spokesperon Muhammad Sani Idris told AFP. One student was killed, Idris added.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement earlier, condemned the abductions and ordered a rescue operation but did not confirm how many students were missing.

At least 650 students had been in the school when it was attacked on Tuesday by gunmen believed to belong to criminal gangs.

“The President directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure immediate and safe return of all the captives,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.

The president urged Nigeria’s security forces “to do all that can be done to bring an end to this saga, and avoid such cowardly attacks on schools in the future”.