28 high school students freed by their captors in the north-west

The armed men who had kidnapped 121 adolescents in early July in a high school in northwest Nigeria, released 28 new adolescents, said Sunday one of the officials of this Christian secondary school. On July 5, armed men overnight invaded the dormitories of Bethel Baptist High School, located in Chikun in
Kaduna State, before kidnapping his residents aged between 10 and 19. This attack is the latest in a series of mass kidnappings of children and students in northwestern Nigeria by criminal groups.

“Twenty-eight have been released and we have reunited them with their parents,” said Reverend Joseph Hayab, one of the leaders of Bethel Baptist High School. “The bandits released them yesterday and we went to pick them up with the church buses,” detailed the reverend, who said the children spent the night in the school before the authorities called their parents. early Sunday to tell them to come pick them up. The Kaduna state police did not react early Sunday afternoon.

Very frequent hostage-taking

“In all we have 34 children who have regained their freedom, and 87 who are still being held hostage by the bandits”, underlined the reverend. Indeed, “five children had fled on July 21, two of them had been found by the police. The other three had managed to reach the school on their own, ”he added. “They had managed to escape when the bandits sent them to fetch wood for cooking. Two weeks ago, the kidnappers also released a high school student for medical reasons, ”he added.

After the kidnapping, the kidnappers demanded food and ransom from school officials for the hostages’ release. “We talked a lot with the bandits. The church but also the parents played a role ”in their release. “As a manager, I will lie to you if I told you that it was not about money, but I cannot tell you how much was given,” he added. From now on, “we pray that they release the other children.”

Kidnappings of road travelers or influential figures for the payment of ransom are common in Africa’s most populous country. The Islamists of Boko Haram had carried out the first kidnappings in schools, with the kidnapping of more than 200 young girls in their dormitory of Chibok in 2014, causing the stir of the world public opinion. But the kidnappings of schoolchildren have tragically increased since, in particular this year, when more than 1,000 young people have been kidnapped since December 2020. Most were released after negotiations but many of them remain in the hands of their parents. kidnappers, organized criminal gangs with hundreds of members.

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