Gunmen abduct pupils from Nigerian school

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An armed gang has abducted students from an Islamic school in the north-central Nigerian state of Niger, police and state government officials say.

Armed groups carrying out kidnapping for ransom are blamed for a series of raids on schools and universities in northern Nigeria in recent months, abducting more than 700 students for ransom since December.

Niger's state police said gunmen on motorcycles attacked the town of Tegina, in the Rafi local government area, on Sunday afternoon.

The attackers were "shooting indiscriminately and abducted a yet to be ascertained number of children at Salihu Tanko Islamic school".

The school's owner, Abubakar Tegina, told Reuters in a phone interview that he witnessed the attack.

"I personally saw between 20 and 25 motorcycles with heavily armed people. They entered the school and went away with about 150 or more of the students," Tegina said.

"We can't be exact because most of them have not reported to the school as at that time," he said, when asked for further details of the number taken.

Tegina said there were about 300 pupils aged between seven and 15. He said pupils lived at home and only attended classes at the site.

Most students kidnapped in recent months have been taken from boarding schools.

One person was shot dead during the attack and a second person was seriously injured, the state governor's spokeswoman said.

She said 11 of the children taken were released by the gunmen because they were "too small and couldn't walk".

A group of bus passengers were also abducted, she said.

Sunday's attack in Niger took place the day after the release of the remaining 14 students of a group abducted last month from a university in neighbouring Kaduna state.

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