(UPDATED) “This is a very, very sad situation for us,” says Bethel Baptist pastor and state CAN leader whose son narrowly escaped.
Editor’s note: This article was updated July 6 with reactions from Nigerian Christian leaders.
More than 100 students at a Baptist boarding school in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna were captured early Monday morning in what Nigerian church leaders call the worst kidnapping of Christians to date.
Shooting wildly, armed assailants breached the walls of Bethel Baptist High School on the outskirts of the state capital, Kaduna, at about 2 a.m. on July 5 and took students in the school hostel away at gunpoint, area residents told Morning Star News (MSN).
Efforts were still underway to determine exactly how many students were abducted. A Bethel teacher told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that 140 students were kidnapped while 25 students escaped, but area residents living close to the school told MSN that 179 children were abducted of which only 15 escaped.
Established by Bethel Baptist Church in Kaduna, the boarding school was attacked after kidnappers overcame security personnel, sources said.
The attack was the fourth mass school kidnapping in Kaduna state since December, according to AFP. World magazine recently examined the kidnapping surge, which the Nigerian government blames on bandits while many Christians blame Muslim Fulani extremists.
Israel Akanji, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, attributed the attack to bandits and described the situation as “indeed pathetic” in a Tuesday (July 6) statement sent to CT. He stated that 28 students have been reunited with family while 125 students remain missing.
“We strongly believe that, by the grace of God, these students will safely return to their parents soon,” stated Akanji, citing ongoing search and rescue operations by the Nigerian …
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