Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

People gather inside the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Nigeria Dec. 12, 2020. Nigerian police say that hundreds of students are missing after gunmen attacked the secondary school in the country’s northwestern Katsina state.
Abdullatif Yusuf/AP
NewsDefeat Poverty

#BringBackOurBoys: Over 300 Kids Are Missing After Gunmen Attacked a School in Nigeria

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals, including Goal 4 for quality education. We will not be able to achieve this goal and make sure all children have access to education so long as conflict and terrorism continue to put the lives and futures of schoolchildren at risk. You can help by taking action on this issue and many more in the mission to end extreme poverty here

Editor's note: This article has been updated on Dec. 15 to reflect a reported claim by Boko Haram of responsibility for the attack in Kankara.

An attack by armed gunmen on an all-boys secondary school in Kankara, Katsina state, in Northwestern Nigeria has left more than 300 children missing, authorities have said — with the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys trending as Nigerians react to the incident. 

The attackers arrived at the school on motorcycles late on Friday evening and reportedly engaged security forces in a fierce gun battle, forcing hundreds of children to flee into the surrounding bushes and forests. 

“So far we are yet to account for 333 pupils [...] efforts are being made to ascertain the actual number of children that have been kidnapped,” said Katsina State governor, Aminu Masari. 

It has been reported that a man identifying himself as the leader of terrorist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack and abductions.

Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said in a statement: "UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms this brutal attack and calls for the immediate release of all children and their return to their families. UNICEF is deeply concerned about this act of violence. Attacks on schools are a violation of children's rights.” said

Related Stories Sept. 11, 2020 5 Issues Nigeria Must Address to Ensure Every Child Can Access a Quality Education

Parents and family members of the students gathered at the school on Sunday to issue a plea to authorities to bring the missing boys to safety. 

“We don’t see the value of the government. I have a younger brother and a child taken by the kidnappers. I’m from Danja, Katsina state, and I’ve been here in the school since dawn and yet there’s no update,” Bint’a Ismail, mother of a missing child, told Al Jazeera.   

The government has said the military will pursue the attackers without any collateral damage.

“We will go the whole hog. We have the intelligence, the information where they are and their movement, and their method of operation,” said Defence Minister Major General Bashir Salihi-Magash, according to Al Jazeera.

Related Stories Oct. 13, 2020 #EndSARS: Young People in Nigeria Are Using Social Media to Drive Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Boko Haram — which means "Western education is forbidden" in Hausa — began a campaign to impose its version of strict Islamic law in 2009.

In 2014, Boko Haram abducted more than 270 girls from a school in Chibok, Northeastern Nigeria, and kidnapped another 100 girls in 2018, this time in the town of Dapchi.

The former birthed the globally viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign and Boko Haram’s other activities has caused the International Criminal Court (ICC) to call for a formal inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nigeria, following a decade-long investigation into violence in the north-east involving Boko Haram militants. The conflict has killed over 30,000 and displaced more than 2 million people.

Related Stories June 4, 2020 Nigerians Are Turning to Social Media to Condemn Widespread Sexual Violence, Inequality, and Police Brutality

Insecurity has increased greatly across Nigeria in recent years. This month, more than 70 farmers were executed by bandits and kidnappings have been on the rise.

Incidentally, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is from Katsina State, was on a private visit to the state on Friday when the attack occurred. On Saturday, he condemned “the cowardly bandits’ attack on innocent children” and directed that security be tightened around schools. 

The state government has directed that all schools in the state be closed till further notice.