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3 Killed, Many Students Kidnapped in Nigeria's Zamfara State 

Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

Gunmen in Nigeria have killed at least three people and abducted 20 including students and staff from an agricultural college in Northwest Zamfara state.

School officials say those taken include fifteen male students, and four other people. However, authorities on Monday said two staff members and one of the kidnapped students escaped and returned to the school.

They were kidnapped on Sunday night from the College of Agriculture in Bakura, Zamfara state, after armed men opened fire and killed the school's security guards.

The Zamfara state police command has yet to make an official statement.

This is the latest in the spate of kidnap-for-ransom attacks devastating schools in Northern Nigeria.

Emmanuel Hwande, a spokesman for the Nigerian Teachers' Union, says persistent attacks are partly due the region’s poor education system.

"You'll see that most of these people that are carrying out such attacks on schools have no education. Apparently, they have been radicalized in this manner because they had no access to education," he said.

Northern Nigeria has the lowest rates of school enrollment in the country. Over 70 percent of Nigeria's 13.2 million out-of-school children can be found here. Cultural and religious biases are believed to have influenced the low school turnouts.

Last Friday, President Mohammadu Buhari returned from a 19-day trip to the U.K. where he attended an education summit hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

At the summit, Buhari promised to improve Nigeria's education financing by 50% over the next two years.

But Hwande says accountability during execution of budget can be a problem.

"We're beginning to feel that the funds government is putting into education, we have to interrogate those fundings," he said. "Is the money actually going into providing adequate security? Because so much has been put into security and so little is being achieved."

Since December, more than 1,000 students have been kidnapped from schools across northern Nigeria and Amnesty International says hundreds of schools there have shut down as a result.

Most of the students have been freed, usually after hefty payments or ransom.