By AFP News…..
Three abducted Nigerian students have been shot dead by their kidnappers, a local official said on Friday, three days after they were snatched by gunmen from their university in the northwest of the country.
The announcement of the student deaths came hours after President Muhammadu Buhari had condemned the killing of “tens” of villagers early this week in neighbouring northwestern Zamfara state.
The student killings were an escalation in the mass kidnappings that are plaguing northwest and central Nigeria, where criminal gangs who ransack villages have become an increasing security threat.
Gunmen attacked the private Greenfield University in Kaduna state on Tuesday, killing one staff member and taking an unknown number of students, in what was the fifth known attack on a school or college since December.
“The armed bandits who kidnapped students of Greenfield University, have shot dead three of the abducted students,” said Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state’s internal security and home affairs commissioner, adding that “an unspecified number of students” had been taken.
The remains of the students were found in a village close to the university, he said in a statement.
Two university staff told AFP that 20 students along with three non-academic staff were kidnapped but state officials could not confirm those numbers.
Bandits have ramped up kidnapping attacks in recent months hoping to squeeze ransom payments.
But local authorities have said it would not pay any ransom to criminals.
“We will not give them any money and they will not make any profit from Kaduna,” governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai told local media earlier this month.
The announcement of the student deaths came hours after President Muhammadu Buhari had condemned the killing of “tens” of villagers early this week in neighbouring northwestern Zamfara state and ordered security forces to hunt down the perpetrators.
Local residents said as many as 60 people could have been killed in Wednesday’s rampage in about a dozen villages in the state but only nine bodies had been recovered.
Police and government officials could not immediately confirm the death toll.
In a statement late Thursday, Buhari said “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later.”
He ordered security forces to rid the region of “frequent and horrifying bandit activities.”
“The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration,” he said.
Gunmen on motorcycles
Local residents said motorcycle-riding gunmen stormed 13 villages in Magami district of Zamfara state on Wednesday, shooting residents, looting and burning homes.
“These are neighbouring villages and the bandits rode in motorcycles, shooting anyone at sight,” resident Halliru Bala told AFP.
“Most of those killed were volunteers who mobilised to help fend off the attacks,” he said.
“We buried nine people yesterday (Wednesday) here in Magami but we are still looking for 51 others,” he said.
Another resident, Babangida Ilu said villagers had fled the communities.
“We are still afraid to go into our villages to pick the dead because the bandits are still around nearby bushes and would attack whoever goes back,” he said.
“Only nine out of the 60 people we lost in the attacks were recovered and buried. The rest are still scattered in the villages.”
Ilu said the gunmen looted food supplies and burnt homes during the attacks.
“The bandits went from village to village on a killing spree which made people to flee,” said Altine Musa, another resident.
Zamfara has been the hardest hit by bandits among the volatile northwest and central states despite local attempts to negotiate and offer amnesty in return for disarmament.