Nigerian army rescues 137 abducted Kaduna students

More than 200 students kidnapped from a school in north-west Nigeria have been rescued.

More than 200 students kidnapped from a school in north-west Nigeria have been rescued. Photo: AP

The Nigerian army has rescued students and staff abducted by gunmen from a school in the country’s north, the military says, days before a deadline to pay a $US690,000 ($1.1 million) ransom.

The kidnapping of 287 students on March 7 in Kuriga, a dusty town in the north-west state of Kaduna, was the first mass abduction in Africa’s most populous nation since 2021 when more than 150 students were taken from a high school in Kaduna.

Military spokesman Major General Edward Buba said 137 hostages – 76 females and 61 males – were rescued in the early hours of Sunday in the neighbouring state of Zamfara.

“In the early hours of 24 March 2024, the military working with local authorities and government agencies across the country in a co-ordinated search and rescue operation rescued the hostages,” Buba said in a statement.

A security source said earlier the students had been freed in a forest and were being escorted to Kaduna’s capital for medical tests before being reunited with their families.

It was not immediately known whether security forces had to extract the hostages from the hands of their captors or whether there had been any clash in the process.

Kaduna Governor Uba Sani had earlier put the total number of hostages at more than 200.

Officials were not immediately available to comment on the discrepancy in reported hostage numbers.

Abductions at Nigerian schools were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 276 students from a girls’ school in Chibok in north-east Borno State a decade ago.

Some of the girls have never been released.

Since then the tactic has been widely adopted by criminal gangs without ideological affiliation.

The gunmen had demanded a billion naira ($1.1 million) for the release of the missing children and staff.

The government had said it would not pay any ransom.

The practice was outlawed in 2022.

Kidnappings by criminal gangs demanding ransoms have become an almost daily occurrence, especially in northern Nigeria, tearing apart families and communities that must pool savings to pay ransoms, often forcing them to sell land, cattle and grain to secure the release of their loved ones.


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