Governor Aminu Masari on Sunday said no fewer than 333 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State are still missing after the invasion of the school by bandits Friday night.
Masari, who spoke when he received the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, and security chiefs on a sympathy visit to the state also said the missing children are from different parts of the state and even outside the state because the school is a boarding school.
“The school has a population of 839 and so far, we are yet to account for 333 students and we are still counting because more are still coming out of the forest.
“We are also calling on parents that have phone numbers to find out whether their children have gone back home, because we have discovered that in so many local governments the children have gone back but based on the records that we have, we are still searching for 333 children through parents and forests in order to ascertain the actual number been kidnapped.
“We as a government, we are yet to be contacted by any group or person. We prefer not to discuss this because we can be emotional.”
Speaking earlier, the Defence Minister assured the governor that the armed forces, police and other security agencies are working assiduously to rescue the abducted students within a few hours.
According to the Minister, security agencies have intelligence information about the movement, whereabouts and methods of operations of the marauding bandits and would soon dislodge them and rescue the captives without collateral damage.
Magashi also said security personnel have been directed to immediately commence operations in flashpoints within Kankara Local Government Area and other adjoining forests in order to rescue the school children.
He said: “Today, we are here to sympathise with you over a useless exercise conducted by a few to disrupt the education of about 800 children and the confusion arising thereof.
“We felt this kind of things which happened two days ago, the armed forces, police and other security agencies must move very fast to ensure that the students are rescued.
“We are doing this with the belief that if these kind of people are allowed to rest for a moment, we are equally condoling this kind of activities and the conclusion within most of the security agencies is that it is high time we declared this kind of people terrorists.
“If we do that probably people will sit up because once you are a terrorist, you don’t have any right of life. But so far, we have been briefed by the people on ground; commissioner of police, GOC, Brigade Commander, Air officers, DSS and other security officers.
“With their briefing, this task is going to be very simple for us because in the next few hours, we will ensure that the students are back. We have strategized and I believed we can do it without any collateral damage on the people of Katsina State.
“We have intelligence information about their movement, whereabouts and methods of operations and we find out that this task will be very easy for the armed forces and the police to accomplish but we need prayers so that there will be no collateral damage in the event of the hostile fight.”