An audio message from a man identifying himself as the leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram has claimed that the armed group was responsible for the abduction of hundreds of students from an all-boys school in the northwestern state of Katsina.
The number of missing students remains unclear. Military spokesman General John Enenche told Channels TV on Monday that 333 pupils were unaccounted for after heavily armed gunmen raided the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in the town of Kankara.
“I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in Katsina,” said the man in Tuesday’s voice message.
Boko Haram and its splinter faction, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have for years waged a violent armed campaign in the northeast of the country and neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. In 2014, Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in the town of Chibok.
The man in the audio message offered no proof for the claim. No video footage was released of the missing boys. There was no immediate comment by Nigerian authorities.
Late on Monday, the governor of Katsina state, Aminu Bello Masari, said the abductors “have made contacts with the government”.