More than 130 kidnapped Nigerian schoolchildren released

More than 130 students kidnapped by gunmen from a Nigerian school earlier this month have been released “unharmed” days before a ransom deadline, officials said.

Government spokesman Abdulaziz Abdulaziz told the media on Sunday that the release of the March 7 incident in the dusty town of Kaduna state came “after a lot of involvement from secret channels” Students kidnapped in Kuriga, Nigeria’s first mass kidnapping since 2021.

“[All] They were all released and are doing well. He said the official number of released students, 137, was far lower than the 286 students and one staff member reported by most media outlets. He claimed the media reports were wrong, but did not provide further details.

Earlier on Sunday, Ubasani, the governor of northwestern Kaduna state, said in a statement that the hostages were released after a “security operation” coordinated by the country’s national security adviser.

“We are grateful to all Nigerians who have fervently prayed for the safe return of school children. This is indeed a day of joy,” the governor said.

Sani added in a statement: “The Nigerian Army also deserves special praise for showing that with courage, determination and commitment, it is possible to reduce criminal elements and restore security to our communities.”

Kidnappings of students by armed groups without ideological leanings are common in Nigeria. On March 9, 15 students were abducted from a school in Gidan Bakuso village in Sokoto state, and on March 18, at least 87 people, including women, were abducted in Kajuru area of ​​Kaduna state.

Kidnappings in recent years have been concentrated in the country’s northwest and central regions, where dozens of armed groups regularly target villagers and travelers for ransom, forcing families and communities to sell land, livestock and food to secure the release of loved ones – Or in some cases, crowdfunding on social media sites.

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Gunmen in Kaduna last week demanded a total of 1 billion naira ($680,000) to free children and staff, vowing to kill the victims if payment was not made within 20 days. But Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu said he “will not pay a dime” to crack down on attackers after the practice is outlawed in 2022. Those who pay the ransom face 15 years in prison.

The armed group “Boko Haram” first carried out kidnappings in Nigerian schools. In 2014, the organization abducted 276 students from a girls’ school in Chibok, northeastern Borno state. Some of the girls were never released and most were forced to marry militants.

In another mass kidnapping in July 2021, gunmen kidnapped more than 150 students in raids. Months later, the students were reunited with their families after a ransom was paid.

Some 1,400 children have been abducted since 2014.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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