137 kidnapped school children rescued in Nigeria

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.

137 kidnapped school children rescued in Nigeria
A general view of a classroom at Kuriga school in Kuririga on March 8, 2024, where more than 250 pupils kidnapped by gunmen in early March.

Nearly 150 children abducted two weeks ago in northern Nigeria were rescued on Sunday.

The mass kidnapping of 287 students in Kuriga, Kaduna State, northern Nigeria, is the first mass kidnapping in the West African country since 2021.

Authorities said 137 students, 76 girls and 61 boys, were rescued from neighboring Zamfara state.

“In the early hours of March 24, 2024, the military, working with local governments and government agencies across the country, rescued the hostages in a coordinated search and rescue operation,” Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Edward Buba said.

This was representative of all students who were incarcerated. The number of reported mass kidnappings in Nigeria often declines after those who go missing while fleeing attacks return home.

Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani said the children were not injured.

“Today is truly a day of joy,” he added.

They will be returned to their hometowns for medical examinations before being reunited with their families.

The children were released days before the $690,000 ransom was due. Ransoms are often paid in kidnappings in Nigeria, but authorities rarely approve payments.

Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had previously promised to rescue the children “without paying a penny”.

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

Since then, this tactic has been widely adopted by criminal organizations, locally known as bandits, regardless of ideology.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Kaduna kidnapping. But two people familiar with the security crisis in northern Nigeria told The Associated Press that the kidnappers’ identities are known and that they are hiding in the forest.

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