At least 520 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara are still unaccounted for, reports say.
The students are believed to have been kidnapped by bandits who raided the Katsina school on Friday night. President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide Garba Shehu said only 10 students were abducted but parents and multiple witnesses disagree.
A 17-year-old boy who reportedly escaped while the armed bandits carried the students off into the bush told BBC Hausa they initially ran but the abductors assembled them back claiming to be security agents.
He said when they left the school, the bandits asked one of them to do a headcount. He said they were 520 in number.
The boy, according to comments human rights activist Bulama Bukarti made on the BBC story, said they walked nonstop throughout the night.
About an hour to dawn, he said he hid behind a tree and luckily the kidnappers did not see him. He then started running back after they gave him a bit of distance.
“This means the remaining victims have been walking for the past three days,” Bukarti tweeted on Monday.
“It is possible that the kidnappers have reached their vehicles and loaded the boys. The abductors may take them to another part of Nigeria or even out of the country and divide them into small groups as they did with the Chibok girls.
“The chances of a rescue is getting slimmer,” he warned.
Buhari, who refused to visit the parents of the kidnapped students, said the military and the police had located the bandits and were engaging them in a gunfight.
Katsina governor Aminu Masari visited the school but was reportedly shouted down by protesting parents when he tried to speak. Police, according to reports, later fired teargas at the angry parents as the governor made his way out of the venue.
A man who did not want to be named reportedly said the security agencies were informed before the attack occured.
“The gunmen passed in front of me and opened fire,” he told BBC.
“They entered the school and kidnapped several students.
“We got the information that they were going to attack and we told security officials but no action was taken,” he said.