About 200 students were in a Koranic school in Niger state at the time of the attack on Sunday. The police are hard at work.
Posted: 06/01/2021, 12:06 AM
The black series of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren continues in Nigeria, where dozens of children were again abducted on Sunday by scores of gunmen from a private Muslim school in a north-central region.
The exact number of the abducted children was still uncertain on Monday, but around 200 were in the Salihu Tanko school in Niger state at the time of the attack on Sunday afternoon. Several managed to escape, but the kidnappers “took more than a hundred students, before leaving those they considered too small, those between four and 12 years old,” an official told AFP. school, on condition of anonymity.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday ordered the security forces and intelligence services to “accelerate their efforts to recover the 200 children,” his office said. “Those involved in the relief operations must do everything possible to ensure their immediate release,” he added.
The kidnappers “released eleven children, who were too small to walk,” said local authorities, who denounce the rise in the number of kidnappings for ransom across central and northern Nigeria.
Police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said the attackers arrived on motorbikes and started shooting before killing one resident and injuring another and abducting the children.
This new kidnapping occurred the day after the release of 14 students in the state of Kaduna (north), after 40 days of detention. Five students were executed by their captors in the days following their kidnapping to pressure families and force the government to pay ransom. Families, quoted by the local press, said they had paid 180 million naira (392,325 francs) in total to find their children.
These armed gangs, whose members are commonly referred to as “bandits”, terrorize populations in west-central and northwestern Nigeria, looting villages, stealing livestock and carrying out mass kidnappings for ransom. These groups have been engaged in such kidnappings in schools for months: 730 children and adolescents have already been kidnapped since December 2020.
Several of these kidnappings had made international headlines and caused worldwide stir, especially at the end of February, when 279 teenage girls, aged 12 to 16, were kidnapped and then released five days later in Zamfara state. in northwestern Nigeria.
This black series began last December, with the kidnapping of 344 boys from their boarding school in Kankara, in the north. They were released after a week, after negotiations.
The increase in these kidnappings raises fears of worsening dropouts, particularly of girls, in these poor and rural regions which already have the highest rate of children not attending school in Nigeria. Faced with this situation, many states have indeed taken the decision to temporarily close residential schools.
Nigeria has been in the throes of kidnappings for decades, with criminals mostly targeting wealthy and influential men. But in recent years, they have targeted even the poorest and armed bands have launched their attacks on major roads in particular, where travelers are regularly kidnapped.
In early May, hundreds of people blocked a highway outside Abuja to protest the sharp rise in kidnappings for ransom on the outskirts of the federal capital.
Criminal gangs carry out attacks from their camps in Rugu Forest, located on the borders of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states. The attackers are initially motivated by greed, even if some bandits have pledged allegiance to jihadist groups present in northeastern Nigeria, hundreds of kilometers away.