Nigeria: Eight kidnapped students escape their captors

Nigeria: Eight kidnapped students escape their captors

Local authorities said Wednesday that eight secondary school students, who were kidnapped in northwest Nigeria, escaped from their captors two weeks after they were kidnapped on their way to school.

The students were kidnapped on April 3, an area where kidnappings for ransom are common and resumed after a lull during elections in February and March, said Samuel Arwan, commissioner of internal security in Kaduna state. He said they were eight, not ten, as he stated at the time.

Ahead of general elections at the end of February, the government put new banknotes into circulation, saying it wanted to curtail the informal economy and corruption or pay ransoms to the kidnappers.

But at the end of March, it put the old notes back into circulation after strike threats from a major union that denounced the banknote shortage.

“The eight kidnapped public secondary school students … fled from the terrorists’ hideout” in a “dense forest” and walked for several days before they were rescued, Al-Arwan said in a statement.

He added that doctors examined them before reuniting them with their families, adding that the army is combing the forest to find the kidnappers.

Also in Kaduna state, 33 people were killed last weekend when militants attacked a village in Zangoon Katav district, opening fire on fleeing residents and burning homes, a government official said.

Kaduna is one of several states in northwest and central Nigeria terrorized by armed gangs – known locally as “bandits” – who attack villages, kill residents and kidnap for ransom. Hundreds of students have been kidnapped in recent years in these areas.

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The hostages, who are also simple travelers kidnapped on the road, are generally released after their relatives pay a ransom.

But those for whom no ransom was paid are killed and their bodies dumped into a vast forest used as a hideout by bandits, all over the states of Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger.

Authorities and analysts are concerned about the growing alliances between bandits, motivated solely by the lure of profit, and jihadists who have been leading an armed insurgency in the country’s northeast for 14 years.

Last year, the powerful governor of Kaduna state, Nasir al-Rifai, said jihadist groups Ansar and Boko Haram had set up camps in the Birnin Jawari district of his state, hundreds of kilometers from their traditional stronghold in the northeast.

Widespread insecurity in Nigeria is one of the main challenges facing President Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling APC party who was elected in February in an election marred by technical problems and denounced as fraudulent by the opposition.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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