During the night of Thursday, a group of armed men attacked a school in northwest Nigeria, kidnapping hundreds of girls. In this part of the world, massive kidnapping of students has become a frequent tragedy. The number of kidnapped youths is still being verified.
Local authorities confirmed to AFP the attack on the Jangebe school, in the state of Zamfara, by armed men, as well as the kidnapping of the students.
“They came to the school with vehicles, then forced some of the girls to go with them,” said Sulaiman Tunau Anka, spokesman for the local government. “We are still verifying the exact number of abducted girls”, he added.
On his side, a teacher, who did not want to reveal his identity, stated that “more than 300 young people are missing”.
Another teacher said that 600 teenagers were in the dormitories during the attack and that only “about fifty were found”. He specified that the girls who did not appear could have been kidnapped or escaped.
The security forces were deployed in the area to “chase criminals” according to local authorities.
This alleged kidnapping is the latest in a series of similar incidents perpetrated in central and northwestern Nigeria by criminal groups terrorizing the population, stealing livestock and looting villages.
Last week some 40 people (including 27 students) were abducted in Kagara, Niger state, in west central Nigeria, and 344 teenagers had suffered the same fate in early December in Kankara, Katsina state.
In the most recent case, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari launched a rescue operation and negotiations are currently under way with the kidnappers, but the hostages have not yet been released.
In the case of the Kankara teenagers, they were released after a week of captivity and negotiations between the gangs and local governments.
The abduction caused a global commotion and brought to mind that of more than 200 girls by Boko Haram in Chibok (northeast) in 2014.
These criminal gangs are driven by greed, but some have ties to jihadist groups present in the northeast, a few hundred kilometers away.
They are often hidden in the Rugu Forest, which spans four states: Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Niger.
For years, they have practiced kidnappings in exchange for ransom, attacking towns or buses at road crossings. But in recent months, attacks on schools have multiplied.
For these groups, “the simplest way to get government money now is to kidnap students” said Idayat Hassan, director of the Center for Democracy and Development, after Kagara’s kidnapping.
“The government must guarantee the safety of the schools urgently, otherwise the kidnapping of Chibok and Kankara will encourage others to act worse.” He added at the time.
The criminal violence of these groups has left more than 8,000 dead since 2011, and has forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes, according to a report by the think tank Crisis Group (ICG) published in May 2020.
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.