The criminal group that kidnapped 121 teenagers at a high school in northwest Nigeria in early July released 28 new hostages, but 87 schoolchildren and high school students are still being held.
On July 5, armed men attacked the Bethel Baptist High School dormitory in Chikan, Kaduna State during the night, before kidnapping residents aged 10 to 19.
The attack is the latest in a series of mass abductions of children and students by organized criminal groups in northwestern Nigeria.
“Twenty-eight have been released and we have reunited them with their parents,” said Reverend Joseph Hyab, one of the leaders of Bethel Baptist High School.
“The bandits released them yesterday and we went to pick them up on church buses,” elaborated the reverend, who said the children spent the night at the school before the authorities called their parents. Ask them to come and pick them up on Sunday morning.
When contacted by AFP, Kaduna State Police did not respond in the early hours of Sunday afternoon.
“In total we have 34 children who have regained their freedom, and 87 who are still being held hostage by bandits”, the reverend underlined.
– “We pray” for other children –
In fact, “Five children had fled on July 21, two of them were traced by the police. The other three managed to reach the school on their own,” he said.
“They had managed to escape when the bandits sent them to fetch wood for cooking. Two weeks ago, the kidnappers also released a high school student for medical reasons,” he said.
After the kidnapping, the kidnappers demanded food and ransom from the school authorities for the release of the hostages.
“We talked a lot with the bandits. Church but the parents also played a part in their release.
“As a manager, I would lie to you if I told you it wasn’t about the money, but I can’t tell you how much was given,” he said. Now, “we pray they spare the other kids.”
Impressive statistics for kidnapping road passengers or paying ransom are common in Africa’s most populous country.
– Increase in kidnapping of children –
The first kidnappings in schools by Boko Haram Islamists was the kidnapping of more than 200 young girls in their hostel in Chibok in 2014, stirring up world public opinion.
But there has been a tragic increase in kidnappings of school children, especially this year, when more than 1,000 youths have been abducted by organized criminal gangs since December 2020, which may number into the hundreds, some of whom belong to groups. With fake relationships. Jihadis in the North-East.
Most were released after negotiations but many remained in the hands of their captives.
This is particularly the case for a hundred children abducted in early June at a Muslim school in the neighboring state of Niger, and still held hostage.
“Tegina’s little girls and boys, some 5 years old, have been in captivity for 56 days now. It is clear that the parents are completely left out, with both the state and federal government making no concerted effort to free these defenseless children,” Nigerian analyst Bulama alleged on Twitter on Sunday.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, ordered security forces to do everything to release the children, but the head of state has come under severe criticism as the country’s security situation continues to deteriorate.
Nigeria, with about 200 million residents, is facing severe unrest, particularly in the country’s northeast, a region still plagued by conflicts against jihadist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) , which has killed at least 36,000 people and displaced two million since 2009.
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