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Nigeria: Over 300 school children released after two weeks of mass abduction from a Kaduna academy I VIDEO

The kidnapping, which took place on March 7 in Kuriga, a dusty town in northwestern Kaduna State, was the first mass kidnapping in the country since 2021.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Nairobi Updated on: March 24, 2024 15:56 IST
Nigeria school children released
Image Source : AP Nigeria school children released

Kaduna: Over 300 students and staff abducted by gunmen from a school in northern Nigeria earlier this month have been released, the office of the governor of the state of Kaduna said on Sunday. The kidnapping, which took place on March 7 in Kuriga, a dusty town in northwestern Kaduna State, was the first mass kidnapping in the country since 2021.

Kaduna governor Uba Sani said the country's National Security Adviser had coordinated the release of the children. He did not give details. "The Nigerian Army also deserves special commendation for showing that with courage, determination and commitment, criminal elements can be degraded and security restored in our communities," Sani said. The gunmen had last week demanded a total of 1 billion naira ($690,000) for the release of the missing children and staff.

Kidnappings by criminal gangs with no ideological affiliation and demanding ransoms have become an almost daily occurrence, especially in northern Nigeria, tearing apart families and communities who have to pool savings to pay ransoms, often forcing them to sell land, cattle and grain to secure their loved ones' release.

Mass kidnapping is not new in Nigeria 

It was in Borno’s Chibok town a decade ago that school kidnappings in Nigeria burst into the headlines with the 2014 abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by Islamic extremists, shocking the world.

No group claimed responsibility for any of the recent abductions. But Islamic extremists waging an insurgency in the northeast are suspected of carrying out the kidnapping in Borno. Locals blame the school kidnappings on herders who are in conflict with the settled communities.

Among the students abducted Thursday were at least 100 children aged 12 or younger. They were just settling into their classrooms at the government primary and secondary school when gunmen “came in dozens, riding on bikes and shooting sporadically,” said Nura Ahmad, a teacher.

The school sits by the road just at the entrance of Kuriga town, which is tucked in the middle of forests and savannah.“They surrounded the school and blocked all passages … and roads” to prevent help from coming before marching the children away in an operation that lasted less than five minutes, Ahmad said.

Go! Go! Go!” 

Fourteen-year-old Abdullahi Usman braved gunshots in making his escape from the captors. “Those who refused to move fast were either forced on the motorcycles or threatened by gunshots fired into the air,” Abdullahi said. “The bandits were shouting: Go! Go! Go!” he said.

By the next day, Nigerian police and soldiers headed into the forests in search of the kids but combing the wooded expanses of northwestern Nigeria could take weeks, observers have said.

“Since this happened, my brain has been scattering,” said Shehu Lawal, the father of a 13-year-old boy who is among those abducted. “My child didn’t even eat breakfast before leaving. Even his mother fainted. … We were worried, thinking she would die,” Lawal said.

($1 = 1,447.8900 naira)

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: Nigeria SHOCKER: Assailants kidnap nearly 300 school children in latest case of mass abductions I VIDEO

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