Hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls released in Nigeria

Almost 280 children who were kidnapped by heavily armed men from their boarding school in Nigeria late last week have been released, officials say.

Over a hundred gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked a village in the northern state of Zamfara and kidnapped 279 girls from their boarding school on Friday.

State Governor Bello Matawalle said on Tuesday that “the girls are now free. They have just arrived in the government house and are in good health.”

In a similar incident last month, armed men abducted hundreds of schoolboys along with some of their teachers from the Government Science College (GSC) in the town of Kagara in central Nigeria.

Officials said the gunmen belonged to criminal gangs, who are locally referred to only as bandits.

Also, in mid-December 2020, groups of gunmen kidnapped hundreds of schoolboys in northwestern Katsina State. They released the boys days later after negotiations with the government.

As many as 276 schoolgirls were abducted in the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria in 2014. A foreign-brokered deal enabled the release of 103 of the girls in October 2016 and May 2017.

Authorites say that the gangs are driven by financial motives, but security officials are concerned that they are being infiltrated by Takfiri terrorists from the north and northeastern states of Nigeria.

Those parts of the country have been wracked by years of violence involving Boko Haram and the West Africa Province (ISWAP) branch of the Daesh terrorist group.

ISWAP maintains camps on islands in Lake Chad, where the territories of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad meet.

At least 36,000 people have been killed and some two million people displaced in more than a decade of Boko Haram violence in Nigeria, according to the United Nations (UN)’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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