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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

137 kidnapped school children rescued in Nigeria

  • The children had been kidnapped two weeks ago from their school in Kaduna
  • More and more criminal gangs in the area turn to abductions to seek out large ransoms
Update : 24 Mar 2024, 06:06 PM

Nearly 150 kidnapped school children were rescued in northern Nigeria on Sunday after they were abducted two weeks ago.

The mass kidnapping of 287 students in Kuriga, in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna, was the first mass abduction in the West African country since 2021.

Authorities said 137 students — 76 girls and 61 boys — were rescued in the neighboring Zamfara State.

“In the early hours of 24 March 2024, the military working with local authorities and government ‘agencies across the country in a coordinated search and rescue operation rescued the hostages,” army spokesperson Major General Edward Buba said.

This represented all the students who were in captivity. The reported numbers for mass abductions in Nigeria are often lowered after people who went missing while fleeing attacks return home. 

Kaduna Governor Uba Sani said the children were unharmed.

“This is indeed a day of joy,” he added.

They will be escorted back to their home state for medical tests before being reunited with their families.

The children were released days before a deadline to pay a $690,000 ransom.

Ransoms are commonly paid for kidnappings in Nigeria, but it is rare for officials to admit to payments.

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had previously vowed to rescue the children “without paying a dime.”

Abductions in Nigeria were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, which kidnapped 276 students from a girls’ school in Chibok in 2014. Some of the girls have still not been freed.

Since then, the tactic has been widely adopted by criminal gangs, known locally as bandits, without ideological affiliation.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Kaduna kidnapping. However, two people with extensive knowledge of the security crisis in northern Nigeria told the Associated Press that the identities of the kidnappers are known and that they are hiding in the forest.

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