Nigerian state government confirms 136 children abducted in Niger state


MINNA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen abducted 136 students from an Islamic school in the north-central Nigerian state of Niger on Sunday, a state official said on Wednesday, lower than the estimate of 200 previously offered by the federal government.

An armed gang on motorcycles attacked the town of Tegina in the state on Sunday. State government officials in the following days said they were contacting parents to ascertain the exact number of missing children.

Nigeria's president, in a statement issued late on Monday, said security agents were searching for around 200 students. Niger state's deputy governor, Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, told reporters the number of missing children had been established.

"We can now confirm that a total of 136 students were abducted," Ketso said at a news conference in the state capital, Minna.

Criminal gangs carrying out kidnapping for ransom are blamed for a series of raids on schools and universities in northern Nigeria in recent months in which more than 800 students have been abducted since December.

Ketso told reporters Niger state would not pay any form of ransom.

(Reporting by Jamilu Mohammed in Minna; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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