Nigerian authorities said on Tuesday that about 200 children were seized in the latest school kidnapping in the violent north of the country, but they have ruled out securing their freedom by paying a ransom.
Police were trying to follow the route taken by the kidnappers with the children seized Sunday in a raid on an Islamic school in northern Niger state, a local government official told Reuters.
A fighter jet also flew over the area to try to spot them, the official said.
Gunmen on motorcycles attacked the town of Tegina on Sunday afternoon. One person was shot dead during the attack and a second person was seriously injured. Local authorities estimate the number of kidnapped students at about 200.
Deputy Governor Ahmed Mohammed Ketso told reporters that the state government was pursuing the kidnappers and efforts were being made to identify them.
“We do not pay ransom to kidnappers. We are trying to negotiate to see how we can bring them back safely,” he said.
More than 700 students have been kidnapped for ransom by armed groups since December after raids on schools and universities in northern Nigeria. The government denies paying any ransom, but it is widely believed that it did.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday condemned the kidnapping during a briefing about the incident and urged security forces to release the children immediately.
Police officers have been posted to schools in the region as an enhanced security measure, Ketso said.