Nigerian security troops rescue 344 schoolboys from Boko Haram captors

17

Security troops on Thursday rescued almost 350 schoolboys who had been kidnapped by gunmen in northern Nigeria and taken into a vast forest, the governor of Katsina state said.

The abduction last Friday night had been claimed by militant group Boko Haram in an audio recording.

Gunmen raided the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara town, Katsina state, on motorbikes and abducted the boys in the biggest such incident in the lawless region in recent years.

Governor Aminu Bello Masari told state TV channel NTA that 344 boys in the Rugu Forest in neighbouring Zamfara state had been freed.

“We have recovered most of the boys. It’s not all of them,” Mr Masari said.

Security forces had cordoned off the area where the boys were being held and were told not to fire a single shot.

“We had already established indirect contact to try to make sure that we secure the release of the children unharmed,” Mr Masari said.

“We thank God that they took our advice and not a single shot was fired.”

The boys were on their way back to Katsina state and would be medically examined and reunited with their families on Friday, he said.

ALSO READ  Data price will be depreciated for more value

The abduction gripped a nation already incensed by widespread insecurity and evoked memories of Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls in the north-eastern town of Chibok.

News of the release came hours after a video started circulating online showing Boko Haram militants with some of the boys.

The video, which featured Boko Haram’s emblem, showed a group of boys in a wood pleading “Help us, help us.”

The father of one of the missing boys, who gave only his first name Umar, said his son, Shamsu Ibrahim, was one of the boys who speaks in the video.

“All the armies that have come here to help us, please send them back,” the boy says. “They can do nothing to help us.”

Boko Haram has a history of turning captives into fighters. If its claims were true, its involvement in north-western Nigeria is an expansion in its region of activity.

Earlier on Thursday, protesters marched in the city of Katsina under a banner reading #BringBackOurBoys as pressure mounted on the government to improve security.

ALSO READ  I delayed removal of petrol subsidy for Tinubu, APC to win election, says Buhari

“Northern Nigeria has been abandoned at the mercy of vicious insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, rapists and an assortment of hardened criminals,” said Balarabe Ruffin of the Coalition of Northern Groups.

Armed groups of “bandits” who rob and kidnap for ransom carry out attacks on communities across the north-west, making it hard for locals to farm, travel or mine gold in some states.

Criminal gangs in the north-west have killed more than 1,100 people in the first half of 2020, Amnesty International says.

Boko Haram and its offshoot, IS West Africa Province, have waged a decade-long insurgency estimated to have displaced about 2 million people and killed more than 30,000.

They want to create states based on their extremist interpretation of Sharia.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who comes from Katsina, has repeatedly said that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated”.

A former military ruler, Mr Buhari was elected in 2015 in large part due to his pledge to crush the insurgency.

Under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, Boko Haram grew in strength and controlled territory about the size of Belgium.

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More