Pray! 42 abducted in Nigeria school attack—including Christians

February 23, 2021 by Lindy Lowry in Africa

Our field is reporting a mass kidnapping attack on a school in Nigeria. Some 42 people were taken: 27 students, three teachers and 12 of the teachers’ family members. One student was killed. Reportedly, four of the kidnapped students, one of the teachers and two of the family members are Christians—a total of seven believers.

In the early morning hours of February 17, 2021, at 2 am, students and teachers woke up to gunshots as gunmen stormed Government Science College in the town of Kagara in northern Nigeria’s Niger State. Initial reports indicated that hundreds might have been taken, but after another tally later that total was reduced to 42 out of 650 students who were in the school when it was attacked.

Late Sunday evening the governor of Niger state, Abubakar Sani Bello, confirmed on Twitter that the government is “currently doing all that we can to secure the release of abducted students of GSC, Kagara and return them safely to their parents.”

His statement comes after he announced the release of 53 bus passengers who were kidnapped in a separate event earlier in the week from a state-owned bus in Kundu village, also in Niger State.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. However, criminal gangs, also referred to as bandits, are believed to be behind the attack.

Jo Newhouse*, spokesperson for Open Doors’ work in sub-Saharan Africa explained that both kidnapping of Christians and moderate Muslim civilians by Islamic radicals, as well as kidnapping for ransom by bandits, are endemic to northern Nigeria,” said “They have become nearly everyday occurrences.

In a prepared statement, the spokesperson for Niger’s Governor, acknowledged the increasing frequency of what has become a constant threat—and fear. “We are witnessing these attacks now, almost, on daily basis and it is worrisome,” she said.

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The kidnapping is another in a series of mass kidnappings that have plagued this area of Nigeria. This attack comes just two days before the third anniversary the kidnapping of Leah Sharibu on February 19, 2018. The terrorist group islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction of Boko Haram, took 110 girls from Dapchi in Yobe State. A month later, all survivors were released except Leah Shariibu because she refused to convert to Islam. Leah was 14 when she was taken. Her family is still praying for her return.

In mid-December 2020, 340 boys were taken from a school in Kankara in Katsina State and released a week later. And in April 2014, the most prominent attack: the Chibok kidnappings of 276 girls in the Boko Haram attack on a girls’ finishing school in Borno State. Some 112 young women are still missing.

The insecurity and lack of infrastructure in the country, especially in the northern region, continues to give way to violence and leaves Christians vulnerable to exploitation.

“Because of the insufficient protection from government security forces, civilians—especially children—are exposed to extremely worrying levels of danger and trauma,” Newhouse explains. “This danger will end up harming Nigerian society in the immediate and long-term.”

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly ordered security forces to coordinate a rescue operation for the 42 victims.

Newhouse commented, “Decisive action is needed by Nigeria and its international partners to ensure the safety of its citizens and the protection of all, no matter their race, gender, or religion.”

This is a developing story. Because of the ongoing search, we can’t release specifics like names and ages of the believers for security reasons. We will bring you updates as they become available. Check back on our website for more information.

Pray with us!

  • Please pray for the quick and safe release of these 42 captives. Pray they will be returned safely and unharmed.
  • While they’re in captivity, pray that God will protect them physically and emotionally as they live through this experience.
  • Pray for the believers—that they can bring the peace of Jesus and the presence of Christ to these captives who are scared and traumatized.
  • Pray for the families and communities traumatized by the ongoing insecurity.
  • Pray For the grieving family of the student killed in the attack.
  • Pray for wisdom for the government forces in securing their release. Pray also that they may receive insight in the best way to work for the protection of civilians in the midst of this insecurity.
  • Pray also for renewed diligence and breakthroughs in their negotiations for the freedom of the remaining Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu and so many others who are living in captivity.
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