Eleven of the about 200 Islamiyya school children abducted by gunmen in Niger State on Sunday have been set free by their abductors.
The gunmen were said to have stormed the school located in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of the state and kidnapped about 200 students.
But a press release later on Sunday by Mary Noel-Berje, Chief Press Secretary to the state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, said that the children were freed after their abductors deemed them too small as they could not walk.
He said that the Governor Bello shock and is saddened by the recent reports of abduction of innocent people by armed bandits in several communities across three Local Government Areas of Rafi, Wushishi, and Bida.
FirstNews had reported that the gunmen shot one person dead and left one seriously injured.
Aside from the Islamiyya Students and Teachers from Salihu Tanko Islamic School, whose number is still unconfirmed, the gunmen were said to have also kidnapped some passengers of a Sharon Bus travelling to Minna.
The governor described as outrageous that banditry in the state is escalating. He reiterated his emergency call on the Federal Government for prompt intervention.
“The situation has reached crisis level, in fact, it’s a war situation that we have to confront without further delay,” the governor said, adding that the state government is still searching and conducting a house-to-house headcount to ascertain the exact number of children abducted at Tegina.
The governor described the current situation as unfortunate and unbecoming but assured that the Joint Military Taskforce has been mobilized and are already tracing the tracks of the criminals for possible isolation and ambush.
Governor Bello appealed for calm and restated the “strong resolve” of the state government to continue to protect the lives and property of the citizens as a matter of utmost importance and priority.