Remains of students found in a village near Greenfield University, according to the Kaduna state security official.
According to a local official, three students kidnapped from their university in northwestern Nigeria earlier this week were found dead.
The killings announced on Friday were an escalation of mass kidnappings in northern Nigeria by criminal gangs known locally as bandits.
Gunmen attacked Greenfield Private University in Kaduna state on Tuesday, killing a staff member and taking an unknown number of students. It was the fifth known attack on a school or college since December 2020.
“In an act of senseless wickedness and sheer evil, the armed bandits who kidnapped Greenfield University students killed three of the kidnapped students,” Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for internal security and internal affairs of the state of Israel, said in a statement. Kaduna.
The remains of the students were found in a village near the university, he added.
Two university staff members told AFP news agency that 20 students along with three non-academic staff members were kidnapped but state officials could not confirm those numbers.
In recent months, armed gangs have repeatedly targeted schools and universities in northern Nigeria, kidnapping more than 700 students. Experts agree that the growing cases of mass kidnapping are the result of a thriving criminal enterprise of kidnapping for extortion purposes that has become one of Nigeria’s major security challenges.
“Schools are soft targets,” Ikemesit Effiong, head of research at SB Morgen (SBM) Intelligence, a political risk analysis company based in Lagos, told Al Jazeera. “They appeal to both school children and women because the incentives behind their release are much higher. Furthermore, men are always considered to be in a much broader position to own the finances to secure the release of their wives and children. “
In Kaduna, however, local authorities said they would not pay any ransom to the criminals.
“The bandits have targeted educational establishments and schools, kidnapping students, in particular, because it makes the news. The headlines are the oxygen of terrorists, and these bandits are terrorists, ”Governor Nasir el-Rufai told Al Jazeera last month.
“We do not pay the ransom; we will not negotiate with criminals; we will not negotiate with bandits, “el-Rufai said, calling it” a stand of principle “.
“The fact that you have an AK-47 does not give you the platform to negotiate because if we do, we will have to negotiate with every criminal in Nigeria and grant them amnesty.”
The government and security forces have largely been unable to stop the attacks as they struggle to contain the escalation of violence and crime across the country.
The announcement of the students’ deaths came hours after President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killing of “dozens” of villagers earlier this week in the nearby northwestern state of Zamfara and ordered the forces to certainty to hunt down the authors.
Local residents said up to 60 people could have been killed in Wednesday’s rampage in a dozen villages in the state, but only nine bodies were recovered.
In a statement late Thursday, Buhari said that “such contempt for life will be ended sooner rather than later” and ordered the security forces to rid the region of “frequent and horrifying activities of the bandits”.
“Violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other serious economic challenges will not be tolerated by this administration,” he said.