Among them are 27 girls kidnapped 10 days ago in a school, but the 317 girls kidnapped in Kagara school, are still hostages.
42 people, including 27 children, kidnapped ten days ago from a school in central-western Nigeria were released, local authorities announced on Saturday, the day after a new massive kidnapping of 317 girls in the north of the country.
“The students, teachers and those close to them at the Kagara College of Sciences have regained their freedom and are welcomed by the local government,” announced Abubakar Sani Bello, governor of the state of Niger, located in west-central Nigeria, a region plagued by criminal groups.
In mid-February, gunmen attacked this Kagara public secondary school, killing one student and abducting 27 students, three teachers and 12 family members of staff.
The “bandits” spread terror in the local populations, carry out mass kidnappings in exchange for ransom payment, loot villages and steal livestock for several years, especially in the north-west and central-west of Nigeria.
But lately, kidnappings in schools have also multiplied.
On Friday, 317 teenagers attending school in the northwestern state of Zamfara were abducted from their dormitories. The security forces, accompanied by angry villagers, launched a rescue operation.
That same day, parents of kidnapped students attacked the official convoy that wanted to reach the school, seriously wounding a local journalist in the head.
This Saturday morning, the situation was calmer, according to testimonies collected by AFP.
In early December, 344 students were abducted from a school in Kankara, in neighboring Katsina state, before being released a week later.
In the face of each new mass kidnapping, federal or local authorities claim not to pay ransom for the release of the hostages, something that is unlikely according to security experts who fear that this type of crime will multiply in the region.
In early February, Awwalun Daudawa, who was responsible for Kankara’s kidnapping, surrendered to the authorities in exchange for an amnesty agreement, during a public ceremony in the presence of a group of journalists.
According to expert Yan Saint-Pierre, who runs security analysis center Modern Security Consulting Group, this sends a bad signal to criminals.
On Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari, widely criticized for the catastrophic security situation in northern Nigeria, said he would not “give in to blackmail” by bandits in the case of the girls abducted in Zamfara.
Violence, extreme poverty and unschooling
Their number is uncertain, but these groups are attracting more and more unemployed young people in these regions, who register more than 80% of extreme poverty in their population.
“You cannot say how many there are exactly,” Nnamdi Obasi, an analyst for Nigeria at the International Crisis Group (ICG), told AFP. “They divide, regroup, form alliances among themselves … And in the state of Zamfara alone, there are an estimated 40 places” where they live and hide, he continues.
Some of these groups number hundreds of combatants and others only a few dozen. Several of them have strong ties to jihadist groups present in the northeast of the country.
Criminal violence by these groups has killed more than 8,000 people since 2011, and forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes, according to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, published in May 2020.
The other concern regarding this new trend is that these kidnappings are increasingly promoting the out-of-schooling of children, and particularly of girls, in this region, which already has the highest number of children who do not go to school, according to the ICG.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.