Freed Nigerian students reunite with parents
Nearly 30 abducted Nigerian college students have been released. According to government officials, they were kidnapped in the country’s northern region, two months by heavily armed gunmen.
The kidnapping of students from a forestry mechanization college in Kaduna state in March was one of a slew of mass kidnappings that have afflicted Nigerian schools and universities since late last year.
In the weeks following the attack, security forces discovered ten of the 39 students who had been abducted. However, the whereabouts of the remaining 29 is unknown.
“The Kaduna State Police Command has reported to the Kaduna State Government, the release of the remaining students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization,” local state security official Samuel Aruwan said in a statement.
The statement included no information about how the students were released or their current condition.
President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated the students on their release and urged kidnappers to release other abducted people.
“We are happy they have been released,” the president said in a statement. “We express our deep appreciation to all the actors who contributed one way or the other to this happy outcome.”
After a firefight with the gunmen during the March attack in Kaduna, the military was able to rescue 180 other students on the outskirts of the state capital, Kaduna district.
In northwest and central Nigeria, heavily armed criminal gangs have become a growing security threat, pillaging villages, raiding cattle, and kidnapping for ransom.
They have recently shifted their attention to rural schools and colleges, where they abduct students and schoolchildren.
Kidnap victims are normally released after a few days of talks with local authorities, though state officials often deny that any ransom payments have been received.
Mass kidnappings in the northwest have added to the difficulties faced by Buhari’s security forces, who are also fighting a more than decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast.
The release of hundreds of schoolchildren in Kaduna came just days after a bandit leader who led the abduction of hundreds of children last year was killed in armed clashes with a rival gang.
According to reports, he had only returned to his gang after breaking an amnesty agreement with local government officials, highlighting the difficult role officials face in dealing with armed gangs known locally as “bandits.”
Gunmen attacked a private university in Kaduna state last month, killing one staff member and kidnapping about 20 students and employees, according to witnesses.
Five of the abducted students from the Greenfield University attack in Kaduna were killed by gunmen, according to local officials, and their bodies were discovered nearby.
Six northern Nigerian states have closed public schools as a result of recent mass kidnappings to deter further attacks on students.