• Hundreds of children are feared missing or kidnapped after a group of armed bandits attacked a secondary school in Nigeria on Friday, police have said.
  • The gunmen were armed with AK-47s and exchanged fires with police officers at the scene, allowing some of the children to escape.
  • Officials are unsure how many pupils are missing or have been kidnapped but have said that they've located the kidnappers in a forest and exchanging fire with them.
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Approximately 400 children are feared missing or kidnapped after a group of armed bandits attacked a secondary school in Nigeria on Friday evening, authorities said.

The gunmen, armed with AK-47s, charged into the Government Science secondary school in the northern Kankara district at around 9 pm, a police spokesperson told Reuters.

Police at the scene exchanged fire with the bandits for 90 minutes, allowing around half of the school's 800 pupils to run to safety. One officer was wounded in the exchange.

"The bandits came on motorcycles firing sporadically and tried to enter the school. Our men, with the assistance of the army, engaged them in a shoot-out," the police spokesperson said, according to Al Jazeera.

Officials are unsure how many children are missing but have said they located the kidnappers in a forest and were exchanging fire with them, according to a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari.

"I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits' attack on innocent children at the Science School, Kankara. Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities, and the injured," the president said, Al Jazeera reported.

Police said they would deploy additional forces to support the search and rescue. 

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident at the time of writing. A request for ransom money has also not been made. 

Attacks by Islamist militants are common in the northeastern part of Nigeria.

Katsina, the larger area where the school is located, regularly sees gangs of outlaws attacking locals and kidnapping them for ransom. 

Bint'a Ismail, a parent of an abducted child, told Al Jazeera that Katsina residents live "in a terrifying condition."

"We don't see the value of the government, in fact. I have a younger brother and a child taken by the kidnappers," she added.

The Katsina abductions are the latest high-profile incident involving school children in Nigeria. In 2018, more than 100 girls' kidnapping by the armed Islamist group Boko Haram made international headlines. 

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