Visibly angry residents of Jangebe in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State where 317 schoolgirls were kidnapped on Friday took to the streets and attacked all vehicles that passed through the village.
The villagers, including women and children, stormed the streets and used sticks and stones in carrying out their attacks.
The government and police authorities in the state confirmed the abduction of the students of the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS).
The abducted female students were taken to an unknown destination by armed gunmen who invaded the school in the early hours of Friday.
Two vehicles conveying newsmen from various media organisations were among vehicles that were attacked by the angry residents.
One of the newsmen was injured in the attack and was rushed to a hospital in Gusau, the state capital. The state government confirmed the abduction to newsmen through the Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Abubakar Dauran.
Dauran said: “I can confirm to you now that we have sadly received the report on the abduction of students of GGSS, Jangebe, and right now, I am on my way to the school.
“I cannot say how many students were taken away by the gunmen until I get there but we have already mobilised security men and members of the vigilante who are now in pursuit of the suspected kidnappers.”
The state Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, also confirmed the abduction in an interview with newsmen. He, however, expressed unhappiness that members of the affected community resorted to taking the law into their hands by attacking vehicles, including those conveying rescue workers and journalists.
Yaro said: “People must understand that the government and security agents are on their side and against the bandits. That is why it is very important for them to see the need to allow security agents do their work effectively and rescue the victims.
“We are doing our best along with all sister security agencies, members of the vigilante group and the state government to get to the bottom of this matter and l can assure you that we will rescue all the students unhurt.”
An earlier statement by the state police spokesman, Shehu Mohammed, said the police, in collaboration with the military, had commenced a search-and-rescue operation for the kidnapped schoolgirls. The statement disclosed that the bandits had stormed the school around 1.00 a.m. and abducted the girls.
The statement reads in part: “The Commissioner of Police, CP Abutu Yaro; the Force Commander Operations, Hadarin Daji, Major General Aminu Bande; Brigade Commander, 1 Brigade, Nigeria Army Gusau and other state government officials led a heavily armed reinforcement team to Jangebe to complement the ongoing rescue operation in the locations where the students were believed to have been taken to.
“The CP, while interfacing with the principal of the school and the parents, appealed to them to be calm as joint efforts of the police and other security agencies will surely lead to the successful rescue of the students.”
It was gathered that the bandits stormed the village in their hundreds in buses and on motorcycles, shooting in the air before entering the school and going away with the victims to an unknown destination. A staff member of the school who did not want to be named said: “The gunmen, in their hundreds, invaded the town around 2.00 a.m. on Friday, started shooting sporadically to scare the residents of the town before invading the school.
“After taking away most of the students, we rounded up those that escaped or hid from the bandits and conducted a census where we counted 54 students and we are still searching to see if we can get more. A resident who gave his name as Haliru Jangebe said the local vigilantes tried to repel the invaders but they were overpowered.
“The bandits were too many and they all seemed to be carrying heavy arms as we heard gunshots from all parts of the town. When the shooting stopped, we heard that many students had been kidnapped,” Jangebe said.
The father of one of the abducted students who identified himself as Alhaji Bello Maikusa Jangebe, said gunshots woke up the entire people of the town at around 1.30 a.m. on Friday.
“We thought they had come to attack residents as they usually do. Unfortunately, this time around, they aimed at the students and abducted about 317 of them. Later, we noticed that only a few of the students were left behind,” he said.
According to him, some members of the community said the bandits drove the abducted girl students towards the direction of Wuya Forest in Maru Local Government Area, one of the most dangerous axes the criminals had long occupied.
A guardian to another one of the abducted girls identified as Malam Sa’idu Kwairo said the gunmen drove into the town well-armed in about seven Hilux vehicles, shooting sporadically to discourage any attempt at resistance. “We could hear the helpless girls screaming for help amidst unpleasant sounds of various dangerous rifles, as we noticed they had come to abduct the students in the school,” Kwairo has added.