Police said gunmen savagely shot Bethel Baptist High School in southern Kaduna state overnight.
About 140 students went missing after gunmen stormed a boarding school in Kaduna state in Nigeria on Monday, and police said they were on hot pursuit alongside military personnel.
The attack is the abduction of the December 10 massacre in northern Nigeria, which authorities have attributed to armed bandits seeking ransom payments.
Police said gunmen who fired forcibly attacked Bethel Baptist High School in southern Kaduna state overnight.
“They … overtook the school security guards and broke into the students’ hostel where they abducted an unspecified number of students in the forest,” a police statement said, adding 26 people , even a teacher, were saved.
The Rev. John Hayab, founder of the school, told Reuters news agency that about 25 students were able to escape.
About 180 students attended the school and were on track to take exams, according to Hayab, whose 17-year-old son escaped, and parent, Hassana Markus, whose daughter was among those missing.
Local residents who refused to be identified say security officials closed the school after the attack, which took place between 11pm on Sunday and 4am on Monday.
“The kidnappers have taken away 140 students, only 25 students have escaped. We have no idea where the students were taken,” Emmanuel Paul, a school teacher told the AFP news agency.
Kaduna State police spokesman Muhammed Jalige confirmed the attack but was unable to give details on the number of students taken.
“Tactical police teams were after the kidnappers,” he said. “We are still on a rescue mission.”
Armed men, known locally as bandits, have set up a student kidnapping industry to rescue in northwestern Nigeria, with the Kaduna state particularly harsh. They have taken nearly 1,000 people from schools since December last year, more than 150 of whom remain missing.
The kidnappers also targeted roads, private residents and even hospitals. In the early hours of Sunday, gunmen abducted six people, including a one-year-old boy from a hospital in the northern state of Kaduna.
School robberies in Nigeria were first carried out by armed groups Boko Haram and the West African Province of the Islamic State, but now tactics have been adopted by other gunmen.
In February, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered state governments to “review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles,” warning that the move could boomerang disastrously.
The unrest has become a political problem for Buhari, a retired general and former military governor who has faced growing criticism for prominent attacks by gangs.
The highest-profile school abduction was that of more than 270 students abducted by Boko Haram from the city of Chibok in 2014. About 100 of them remain missing.