Security forces have rescued 14 of at least 20 students abducted from a university in northwestern Nigeria and are searching for the remaining captives, school authorities say.

Gunmen attacked the school in Zamfara state’s Bungudu district last week and fled with the students and some workers in the first mass school abduction in Nigeria since President Bola Tinubu took office in May.

The 14 students from the Federal University Gusau were rescued with two other people, a statement from the university said on Monday without providing details about when they were freed or the nature of the rescue operation.

“The sad and unfortunate incident has indeed thrown the University community into serious tension and apprehension,” 

The statement said, adding that security forces were “doing their best” to rescue the remaining students. It also said steps were being taken to boost security around the university.

Such abductions from schools are common in northwestern and central Nigeria, where armed groups often take people hostage in exchange for huge ransoms that analysts said help them to buy guns and sustain their operations.

Nigeria’s military has been fighting armed groups like Boko Haram in the northeast, which has left it thinly stretched to tackle the kidnapping gangs, known locally as bandits.

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