Africa

Dozens of kidnapped students freed in northern Nigeria

Published : September 14, 2021 15:54 IST

Northern Nigeria has seen a wave of abductions from bandits seeking ransom. Photo: Sunday Alamba/AP/picture alliance

The students were reportedly freed with the help of captors who had been convinced by authorities to "repent."

Nearly 70 Nigerian school students and some staff who were abducted by gunmen just under two weeks ago have been freed, officials in the northern Zamfara state said on September 13. Zamfara Governor Bello Matawalle said the children were released with the help of some of the gunmen who he said had "repented." According to a government spokesperson, no ransom was paid for the students' release.

"Using some of the bandits that repented, we were able to know where they were keeping these children," Matawalle said. "We worked closely with them for about 10 days and yesterday, at about 2 a.m. the commissioner of police alongside others took off to the location where these children were rescued,'' he added. Local media showed pictures of the children after they had been freed.

Release follows government crackdown

The release coincided with a government crackdown on bandit groups. Regional authorities have also shut down networks in order to disrupt channels of communications between the armed gangs. Security sources told AFP news agency that some of the gunmen appeared to have had a change of heart after the camp they were holding the children in was surrounded by security forces.

How were the students abducted?

On September 1, the children along with some teachers were snatched from the Government Day Secondary School in the remote village of Kaya by an armed group in a morning attack. It was the latest in a wave of abductions on schools and colleges in northern Nigeria. The latest attack in Zamfara prompted government officials to shut all primary and secondary schools in the state.

UNICEF has said 10 abductions have taken place in Nigeria over the past year, in which 1,436 students have been taken. Most of those held captive have been released through processes of negotiation, while others have managed to escape.

kb/wmr (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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