Over 200 Nigerian students released weeks after abduction

By Ahmed Kingimi for Reuters

This video grab taken from an AFPTV video on March 7, 2024 shows families of abducted pupils gathering during the visit of the Kaduna State governor Uba Sani after gunmen kidnapped over 280 from a school in Kuriga. Gunmen have kidnapped more than 200 pupils during a raid on a school in northwest Nigeria, a teacher and local residents said, in one of the country's largest mass abductions.
Kidnappings for ransom are common in Africa's most populous country, where heavily armed criminal gangs have targeted schools and colleges in the past, especially in the northwest, though such attacks have abated recently.
Local government officials in Kaduna State confirmed the kidnapping attack on Kuriga school on March 7, 2024, but gave no figures as they said they were still working out how many children had been abducted. (Photo by AFPTV / AFP)

Over 200 students and staff abducted by gunmen from a school in northern Nigeria earlier this month have been released unharmed, a Kaduna state spokesperson says.

The kidnapping, which took place on 7 March in Kuriga, a dusty town in north-western Kaduna State, was the first mass abduction in Africa’s most populous nation since 2021 when over 150 students were taken from a high school in Kaduna.

Abductions at Nigerian schools were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 276 students from a girls’ school in Chibok in north-eastern Borno State a decade ago. Some of the girls have never been released.

But the tactic has since been widely adopted by criminal gangs without ideological affiliation seeking ransom payments.

The latest captives’ release came days before a deadline to pay a US$690,000 (NZ$1.15 million) ransom

Kaduna governor Uba Sani said the country’s national security adviser coordinated the release of the Kuriga schoolchildren. 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 (NZ$1.15m) for the release of the missing children and staff.

The government had said it would not pay any ransom, after the practice was outlawed in 2022.

But kidnappings by criminal gangs 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.


According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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