Three students, who were among those abducted from a university in Nigeria’s Kaduna state on Tuesday, have been found shot dead, authorities say.
Their corpses were found on Friday in Kwanan Bature village, close to the university and have been taken to the morgue.
An unspecified number of students were kidnapped from the privately owned Greenfield University in the Chikun area of the state.
Nigerian kidnappers rarely kill students they abduct.
Unlike some neighbouring states Kaduna state government has a policy of not negotiating with abductors or paying a ransom. Governor Nasir el-Rufai instead wants kidnappers arrested and prosecuted.
Mr El-Rufai described the killing as “sheer wickedness, inhumanity and an outright desecration of human lives by vile entities”.
“The armed bandits represent the worst of humankind and must be fought at all cost for the violent wickedness they represent,” he said in a statement.
Since December, more than 800 students have been abducted from across north-west Nigeria but 29 abducted from a college in Kaduna in March have not been released.
Their parents protested against the decision of the governor not to negotiate with the kidnappers and had indicated their willingness to pay a ransom.
Mass kidnappings of students for ransom payments have been on the increase in Nigeria with authorities struggling to cope with poor security infrastructure.
Most states in the north-west have shut down schools to allow authorities time to come up with a solution to the crisis.