© Reuters. View shows one of the hostels where gunmen abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Kaduna

By Garba Muhammad

KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nine more students than originally thought are missing after gunmen stormed a forestry college in northwest Nigeria earlier this week, a government official in Nigeria’s Kaduna state said on Saturday.

The revision brings the total number of missing students to 39 following Thursday’s nighttime raid on the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, the fourth mass school abduction in northern Nigeria since December.

Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state’s security commissioner, said the missing comprised of 23 females and 16 males.

“The Kaduna state government is maintaining close communication with the management of the college as efforts are sustained by security agencies towards the tracking of the missing students,” Aruwan said.

The armed gang broke into the school in Kaduna state, located on the outskirts of Kaduna city near a military academy, at around 11:30 p.m. (2230 GMT) on Thursday.

Aruwan said on Friday that the army rescued 180 people after a distress call in the early morning hours.

Kaduna city is the capital of Kaduna state, part of a region where attacks by gangs of armed men, referred to as bandits, have festered for years.

Military and police attempts to tackle the gangs have had little success, while many worry that state authorities are making the situation worse by letting kidnappers go unpunished, paying them off or providing incentives.

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